Toothless, gormless and charmless, this horror/history mash-up lays out an intriguing premise in that great title but fluffs it all in a farrago of duff 3D, wooden acting, and a creaking plot. It’s the 1840s and the young United States of America is a country divided. Yup, north and south but also between the living and The Undead. An ancient tribe of vampires-turned-slave barons has colonised the south and is set on turning the USA into the good ol’ Intravenous States of America.
But here to defend the American way is Honest Abe (Liam Neeson lookalike Benjamin Walker). America’s greatest President leads a double life as a vampire hunter, hefting an axe tipped with silver (no United Stakes of America here) to lope the heads off vamps while discovering that hey, he has a gift for oratory and passion for justice and freedom.
Seeking something of the southern gothic of TV’s superior vamp series True Blood, director Bekmambetov merely makes the ghastly Twilight saga look like The Hunger. Vampires are despatched like zombies and the movie doesn’t even have the good grace to play the whole preposterous concept for laughs or take a gravely serious parallel universe approach. And if they’d decided to play this fast and loose with the bloodiest era of America’s history, why not go the whole hog and ask if the “magic bullet” what done for JFK back in ‘63 was actually made of silver?
It could, of course, inspire a whole new sub-genre of mashups for ubergeeks in which historical characters are re-purposed to battle the forces of darkness. The possibilities are endless – Isaac Newton: Zombie Killer, Henry VIII: Witchfinder General; George W Bush: Fundamentalist Christian Warlock... oh hang on.