Dir: Ulrich Edel. Germany-UK. 2000. 95mins

Prod Co: Cometsone Pictures. Int'l sales: New Line Cinema. Prod: Richard Claus. Exec prods: Alexander Buchman, Anthony Waller, Larry Wilson. Scr: Karey Kilpatrick, Larry Wilson based on the Little Vampire novels by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg. DoP: Bernd Heini. Prod des: Joseph C. Nemec III. Ed: Peter R. Adam. Mus: Nigel Clarke, Michael Csanyi-Wills. Main cast: Jonathan Lipnicki, Richard E. Grant, Rollo Weeks, Jim Carter, Alice Krige, John Wood.

A scary movie for all the family, The Little Vampire has a suitably modest chance of connecting with the Harry Potter hordes and the younger end of the Buffy brigade. A radical change of pace for director Ulrich (Body Of Evidence) Edel, it never quite musters the flair and sweep to completely captivate its target audience and lacks the production values to compete with its slicker Hollywood competitors. Icon will release it for Halloween in the UK market.

Struggling to carry a film without the assistance of a cuddly rodent, Stuart Little's Jonathan Lipnicki stars as nine year-old Tony, an American in Scotland who has failed to make friends with the natives. One night his dreams come true when he is befriended by a vampire boy of his own age.

Accepted by the vampire's highly ethical family (they never eat human blood) Tony assists them in fulfilling an age-old quest and avoiding the tender mercies of curmudgeonly vampire slayer Rookery (Carter). Turning traditional tales on their head by having the hunter as the villain and the vampires as the heroes, The Little Vampire displays some originality but otherwise appears lazily plotted. Children might well be tickled by the idea of vampire cows however. Adult performers like Richard E Grant and Alice Krige are given precious little to do although Carter displays evident relish for his role as the Van Helsing figure.

Acceptable holiday fare, the film will probably enjoy a longer shelf life in ancillary markets. In terms of big screen prospects, it just lacks bites.