Monster Family (2018) Review

This Anglo-German animation, based on a 4D movie ride at UK tourist attraction Wookey Hole, should definitely give Disney, Pixar and Illumination pause for thought. Specifically, the thought that they can phone it in for their next movie because there’s zero threat to their crown on the horizon.

When a lonely Dracula (Jason Isaacs) identifies unhappy mum Emma (Emily Watson) as his perfect bride-to-be, he arranges for the witch Baba Yaga (Catherine Tate) to curse his beloved. Unfortunately, the spell goes a bit wrong and Emma’s whole family are turned into their Halloween costumes.

With a crassly obvious eye on international distribution, this American-based animated adventure has been generically animated without apparent reference to the voice cast which is so markedly better than the film deserves that if you listen very closely you can almost hear the producers adding notes to the pile in front of the actors in the recording booths.

It may boast a barely adequate line of slapstick, but all too often it falls back on an unfortunate reliance on flatulence whenever a scene runs out of steam or into a dead end. Tate’s Baba Yaga gets the best of the thin material on offer but ultimately is stuck playing a repetitive and thankless role of kicking the monstrously derivative plot forward. There’s little comedy mined from the rich gothic horror history and none of the characters manage to achieve even a fraction of the personality and humour of the “Hotel Transylvania” movies, which is a crying shame because you have to be particularly inept to cast Jason Isaacs as Dracula and still deliver something this limp and uninteresting.

It’s a journey every one of the home entertainment providers will have to go through as they make their first tentative steps into offering original movies but if Sky want to be a real competitor to the likes of Amazon and Netflix, it’s going to have to dig deeper than whatever reject bargain bin they plucked this out of.