Fred Dekker’s loving homage to the Universal Monsters of yore has several effective elements throughout, but is held back from greatness due to a lack of likable characters and some pacing issues that make the movie feel about twice as long as it is. It’s a shame too, because so much of it has a perfect Halloween night vibe that’s tonally effective and lends the proceedings a child-friendly spooky atmosphere. However, it’s hard not to notice that all the adolescent characters are a combination of underdeveloped and unlikable, and their constant bickering betrays the movie’s underlying theme of unity among friends while undercutting any audience involvement. There’s also a regrettable, jarring use of vulgarity throughout that comes across as tonally inappropriate, not to mention entirely unwelcome and alienating. However, there’s enough of a fun vibe and some energetic action scenes that make the whole thing a little more palatable than the sum of its parts suggests, and Duncan Regehr cuts an impressive figure as Count Dracula, approaching the role much more seriously than one might expect from a kid-friendly family adventure.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)