Film & TV

Hotel Transylvania 2 – Film Review

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Hotel Transylvania has opened its doors to humans. Is it worth checking-in for a second time?

This sequel to 2012’s hit family comedy sees Adam Sandler reprise his role as Dracula and face an entirely new challenge: convincing his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) not to move to California with her human hubby Jonathan (Andy Samberg) and five-year-old son Dennis.

The story is once again driven by timeless family issues which provide the main heartstrings for tugging. We see Dracula’s reluctance to let his daughter move on with her husband and a desire to see his grandson follow in his vampire footsteps. This scenario isn’t groundbreaking by any means, but it’s always good to see a father figure take a strong lead in a family film. Admittedly, Mavis does get side-lined by the script, but the daddy-daughter relationship stays relevant throughout the film’s compact 90-minute runtime.

Frankenstein Selfie

The original film made waves with its combination of gothic horror iconography and cartoonish comedy. Its successor continues this tradition of turning old staples like vampires and zombies on their heads, with tongues kept in rotting cheeks. There are also plenty of cultural memes and forays into modern pop music, with mixed results. Where the film really puts this thematic contrast to work is in the human integration with the monster-centric hotel, culminating in an epic fancy dress party gone awry.

Once again, Hotel Transylvania revives horror movie staples for a new generation.

The art style is colourful and bold, yet drenched in the shapes and hues of classic gothic cinema. This is most apparent in the various settings, from the ominous cave-dwelling abode of Dracula’s fearsome father to the misty woodlands in which Dracula tries to bring out the monster in his “late-bloomer” grandson. The animation helps sell that punchy comedic timing often attributed to classic Disney films. Visual gags like an irritated Dracula and his monster friends piling into an undersized carriage are often hilarious because the contrast is so striking.

The Monster Mash

Adam Sandler’s run at playing Dracula is filled with the lovable goofiness for which he is known. Many laughs come from his overprotectiveness of his daughter and his insistence that his son’s fangs will come at any moment. His accent and mannerisms may be a little too reminiscent of Gru from Despicable Me, but overall, the performance is both solid and fun.

That said, it’s actually the minor characters that provide most of the film’s highlights. Jonathan’s human parents, Mike and Linda, feign politeness with their monster hosts whilst subtly undermining their ability as caregivers. Frankenstein and Murray the Mummy both start to show their age as they fail to scare the local humans in front of Dracula’s grandson. The unmistakable Blobby is bug-eyed and gelatinous as ever as his scooter careens over a cliff (“He’ll be fine”, says an unconcerned Dracula). Some of them don’t get the screen time they deserve, but they’re all distinctive and original, capable of carrying the film on their collective shoulders.

This is fortunate because the film gets less mileage out of the actual narrative. The first act is mostly setting up the fact that Mavis and Jonathan are married and have a son and that Dracula wants his grandson to live in the hotel. Thankfully, Transylvania 2 finds its wheels in the second act and the laughs come faster and louder. More could have been made of the ending, as it feels like a final showdown scene was tacked on for the sake of it. Nevertheless, the story ties up well enough and the somewhat unambitious plot doesn’t mar the film’s unique faux-gothic identity.

Hotel Transylvania 2 is a solid sequel and a fine starting point for newcomers. The window for family animations is pretty slim right now, so with no major competition at the box office and a gamut of character-driven comedy going for it, Transylvania 2 looks set to win plenty of hearts this October.

Hotel Transylvania 2 is out in UK cinemas on October 16th.