Dear Dracula is a medium-length animated film for children, based on a comic book by Joshua Williamson and Vicente Navarette. Because of its length and its target audience, it is rather simple and has a somewhat thin plot, but it has a certain charm. And while its animation style looks “cheap” and barely goes beyond the quality that is offered on animated TV-shows, the characters’ faces deliver emotions well, which is the most important thing.
Sam, a roughly 12-year-old horror fan, is mesmerised by a Dracula action figure he has seen advertised on TV. His grandmother (who he seems to live with?) tells him that if he wants to have that “doll”, he needs to write to Santa Claus and wait till Christmas.
Naturally, Sam is an impatient boy; and since Halloween is right around the corner, he decides to write to Dracula instead. The letter not only contains his wish for the action figure, it is also first and foremost a fan letter. And since Dracula has not received a fan letter in ages, he decides to pack his bags and his coffin and travel to the US to visit his greatest fan – and he arrives just in time for Halloween.
So here they are: the count, whose self-esteem is slightly dented by the fact that people do no longer really fear vampires; and the boy, whose self-esteem is severely damaged by the fact that, as a horror fan, he is an outsider and regarded as a weirdo by the other kids. Can these two misfits help each other out? Well, it’s a children’s film so: of course they can.
As often with children’s media, the plot is not entirely convincing, and the lessons it tries to teach are rather unsubtle. Unfortunately, the story itself is not only very basic, but also not really consequently seen through to the end.
I mentioned the film’s target audience, but the truth is that I have a hard time figuring out what age-range this film might be best suited for. Some of the themes and references suggest that the audience should be at least 12 years old. But the simple story-telling suggests a much lower target audience. Maybe it would be suitable for ages 9-11? I have seen much younger suggestions on the internet, and in a way I can understand why.
As for the parents/adults watching, the film offers enough entertainment for this film not to become a drag – especially considering the fact that the running time is only 42 minutes. In the few Transylvanian scenes there is a nice attention to detail as far as the architecture and interiors are concerned. As for the characters, Dracula is rather amusing and so is his henchman Myro. There are a number of jokes that children will not understand; one or two classic horror in-jokes, as well as references to contemporary horror franchises like Saw and Twilight. And there is the fact that Sam is annoyed when his grandma refers to the action figure as a “doll”.
Among the known actors how lend their voices to characters in this film are Ray Liotta (Dracula), Emilio Esteves (Myro), and Matthew Lillard.
Provided you show this film to children of the right age (and as I said, I am not really sure what the right age would be), it could be considered to rank in the 6-out-of-10 range. Not recommended for anyone else though.