If some nostalgic bells are ringing when you hear about a ‘little vampire’, you are cursed with the memory of that 2000 family comedy starring Richard E. Grant. Both that and The Little Vampire 3D are based off Angela Sommer-Bodenburg’s book series Der kleine Vampir and share two cast members in the form of Downton Abbey’s Jim Carter and Alice Krige from Silent Hill. The story is simple; Tony, a ‘mortal’ boy meets Rudolph the vampire boy. They become friends and unite against some bumbling enemy and his whiney sidekick.
It’s a limp affair throughout, drained of any substance. The vampire characters are horrifically cardboard and you can tick them off as you go. Controlling father? Yep. A younger sister claiming the moral high ground who spontaneously gets the hots for her human acquaintance? Oh yes. Throw in some over-the-top distant relatives and a fawning mother, and even a vampiric comedy cow cannot compensate for the dreariness.
There are charming moments, like Rudolph introducing himself to Tony. Movies like this though really have to be charming throughout to satisfy adults and kids alike. Think of Toy Story. Or anything from Studio Ghibli. This just doesn’t deliver consistently, and you will be dragging yourself through what is, in reality, a modest running time.
The plot is clunky, jumping between scenarios that are all pretty much reinventions of the same thing - bad guys chase Rudolph and Tony, who subsequently escape through the magic of flight. Speaking of which, since when did vampires fly as vampires? What happened to the wholesome bat? Asides that peculiar detail, there is little invention. Little to keep you entertained beyond the visual appeal, which itself just barely stacks up against expectations.
The animation is not exactly below par, but it lacks the obvious quality and flair of what Pixar consistently deliver. What directors Richard Klaus and Karsten Kiilerich do get right is the aesthetic. The inner mid-2000s emo will be resurrected within you when you lay envious eyes on Rudolph’s fancy get-up. Same goes for his brother Gregory - both voiced by Rasmus Hardiker, who does not lose face by any means here. The whole cast fill their roles well, but it barely goes noticed underneath too many tired gags and bland dialogue. All interspersed with a painful number of puns, only one of which is actually funny (and it’s not even about vampires).
If you have young kids and since Hotel Transylvania 3 isn’t out yet, then it’s a perfectly innocent family day out by most measurements. Just don’t go expecting a refreshingly new family movie or sharply cut re-imagination of the vampire, or you will want to crawl into a coffin and die.
THE LITTLE VAMPIRE 3D / CERT: U / DIRECTORS: RICHARD CLAUS, KARSTEN KIILERICH / SCREENPLAY: RICHARD CLAUS & LARRY WILSON / STARRING: RASMUS HARDIKER, AMY SAVILLE, JIM CARTER, JOSEPH KLOSKA, PHOEBE GIVRON-TAYLOR / RELEASE DATE: MAY 25th
Expected Rating: 7 out of 10