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Hotel Transylvania 3: The Van Helsings Are Pretty Terrible Monster Hunters

Hotel Transylvania 3

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Sony's Hotel Transylvania 3, in theaters now.

Most of the drama in Sony's animated Hotel Transylvania franchise usually comes from within. The 2012 original was all about Dracula (Adam Sandler), while being the movie's protagonist, behaving like a villain in preventing his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) from falling in love with a human, Johnny (Andy Samberg). The 2015 sequel then dealt with Dracula's family going through the motions with his own father Vlad (Mel Brooks) and his new grandson Dennis (Asher Blinkoff), whose vampirism hadn't manifested.

However, the latest chapter, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, adopts a more direct approach by introducing a pair of aggressive antagonists -- legendary vampire slayer Abraham Van Helsing and his granddaughter Ericka -- into the narrative. Here, they're monster hunters with no sympathy. However, they don't do the family name any justice, coming off as incompetent. All right, they're downright terrible.

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The movie's opening sequence swiftly establishes that, as director/co-writer Genndy Tartakovsky paints Abraham (Jim Gaffigan) as someone obsessed for decades with killing Dracula, but failing time and again. He's very much like Wile E. Coyote as he bumbles each attempt to best Road Runner. At every turn, Dracula shape-shifts, flies away or uses his physical prowess to elude the aging Abraham, whose frustration grows as he endures injuries. That culminates in him replacing broken body parts with machinery, basically transforming him into a steampunk monster hunter. This evolution stands as a constant reminder of the ineptness of Abraham Van Helsing in his hunt for the biggest trophy in vampire slaying.

Alas, as the baton passes to Abraham's granddaughter, there's little sign of improvement from generation to generation. Ericka (Kathryn Hahn) works with him aboard a cruise ship in the Bermuda Triangle, which serves as a trap to lure monsters to their death. While Abraham masterminds the hunt from the control room, Ericka repeatedly attempts to murder Dracula, only to fail just as badly as her grandfather did. From shooting flares at her target to trying to drop lifeboats and crates on Dracula, she simply cannot slay him as he unwittingly evades all her efforts. It gets worse as she realizes she's fallen in love with him.

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