The Little Vampire **
Dirs: Richard Claus, Karsten Kiilerich. Animation with the voices of: Rasmus Hardiker, Amy Saville, Jim Carter, Alice Krige. 83 mins. Cert: U
German author Angela Sommer-Bodenburg’s tales of a pintsized bloodsucker have already generated one half-term timekiller, a Europuddingy live-action adaptation of 2000, chiefly of note for being directed by Christiane F.’s Uli Edel. Eighteen years on, there follows this similarly cross-continental digimation, attempting to monetise whatever brand awareness the books have among a new generation, and – more specifically – steal a commercial march on Adam Sandler’s third Hotel Transylvania offering. Its generically designed, jerkily swaying characters are only the most visible sign we’re in the hands of algorithms, not artisans.
The one boon it might offer accompanying adults is a certain pace. It takes under 80 minutes for undead Rudolph (Rasmus Hardiker) and mortal Tony (voiced by Amy Saville) to forge the friendship that sees off ruthless vamp hunter Rookery (Jim Carter). Directors Richard Claus and Karsten Kiilerich double down on the action: there’s plentiful swooping around Black Forest landscapes, and eventually the sight of a flying heifer taking down a helicopter with its dung, which counts as some kind of first. Yet the absence of nuance, wit and judicious pauses for either reflection or emotion means it quickly succumbs to numbing relentlessness. Nobody’s ADHD is going to be well-served by it.
True, it’s hard to get too grumpy about a project that retains echoes of Sommer-Bodenburg’s original message of tolerance. (That Rudolph flies in from the cold of Eastern Europe now seems a happy socio-political coincidence.) Still, parents will have to do all the heavy interpretative lifting on the car journey home: every movement within the film is programmed with an eye towards zappy distraction rather than sincere education, which explains why the final product feels as weightless as it looks artless. It’s rare that a professional critic can say this, but you may just do better holding out for the Sandler movie.
The Little Vampire opens in Vue cinemas nationwide today.