The Little Vampire (2 stars)

The Little Vampire

Disappointing animated adaptation of the beloved children's book

Angela Sommer-Bodenburg's 1979 creation remains something of a staple for precocious children with a thirst for horror topics, even though the content is safe for little ones. Numerous books, a television series, a 2000 film, and now this animated remake of the latter suggest audience appetite is still there; unfortunately directors Richard Claus and Karsten Kiilerich's take on the material is decidedly square.

The heart of the story remains the same: an unlikely friendship is formed between vampire Rudolph Sackville-Bagg (voiced by Rasmus Hardiker) and Tony (Amy Saville), a young boy on holiday in the Black Forest area with his parents. Rudolph has just watched helplessly as most of his fellow bloodsuckers are pursued within an inch of extinction by vampire hunter Rookery (Jim Carter). After discovering that the undead are reformed characters, who only drink the blood of cows, Tony agrees to help Rudolph save his friends and extended family, dragging his own unwitting parents into the fray.

The rather simplistic animation provides at least one memorable character: a cow that Rudolph makes immortal, and then flies merrily throughout the film's key moments. This bovine attraction aside, Tony and Rudolph's adventure is a tame affair, with trite life-lessons about how mortals and immortals can put differences aside to work together. In this context, Rookery's feverish desire to exterminate the vampires seems excessive and cruel, and might upset some children.

Despite a recognisable voice cast (Downton Abbey's Carter, the late Tim Pigott-Smith, Alice Krige, Miriam Margolyes), there's a frustrating lack of character about this version of the story. Children wowed by Pixar's Coco might be looking for more supernaturally-themed fare, but it's inferior even to the juvenile Hotel Transylvania franchise, and such beloved source material deserves a more polished revival than this.

General release from Fri 25 May.

The Little Vampire

  • 2 stars
  • 2017
  • Netherlands / Germany / Denmark / UK
  • U
  • Directed by: Richard Claus, Karsten Kiilerich
  • Cast: Rasmus Hardiker, Amy Saville, Jim Carter, Tim Pigott-Smith, Alice Krige, Miriam Margolyes

Young vampire Rudolph (Hardiker) befriends a young boy (Saville) on holiday in the Black Forest. Animated remake (yes, that’s a thing) of a 2000 live action movie based on a beloved children’s book; tame and square, with trite life lessons about putting aside differences, it’s not even as good as Hotel Frankenstein.