Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant

November 3, 2009
Vampires. Fate. Destiny. Dry Ice. And Lots of Violet Backlighting.

Repressed Darren Shan (Chris Massoglia) and BFF slash juvenile delinquent Steve (Josh Hutcherson) pull a typical “teenage boy” and visit the traveling freak show. Since this is a movie, things naturally don’t go well at the freak show. Apart from being a juvenile delinquent, Steve also has a vampire fetish and identifies one of the freaks as legendary vampire Larten Crepsley (John C. Reilly). Apart from being repressed, Darren also has a spider fetish and falls in love with Vampire Crepsley’s spider. After the show, Darren impulsively steals Crepsley’s spider – hearing the history of vampire wars while hiding in Crepsley’s closet – before Steve accosts Crepsley to turn Steve into a vampire. Steve is thrown out of the abandoned theatre, and fleeing Darren accepts a ride home from an obese man named Mr. Tiny (Michael Cerveris) who shows uncomfortable interest in Darren and rides in a car with tacky blue undercarriage lighting. The next day, Darren’s stolen spider mortally bites Steve, forcing Darren to search out Vampire Crepsley to request an antidote. Crepsley agrees to give the antidote on condition that Darren become Crepsley’s assistant and a half-vampire. Abandoned Steve aligns himself with Mr. Tiny, throwing the underground freak and vampire communities into conflict.
Based on the first three books of The Saga of Darren Shan by Darren Shan, the movie is essentially a set-up for a sequel. Normally, I would find that a complete turn-off; however, Vampire’s Assistant saves itself by being an entertaining movie in and of itself. As a non-avid movie-goer, I only recognized a few names in the cast (Salma Hayek, Ken Watanabe, Willem Dafoe), but the messiah character is John C. Reilly’s Crepsley. Crepsley is something new to the Twilight-suffocated undead community: a chunky, carrot-topped, scar-faced, and thoroughly dead-pan vampire who totally rocks. Massoglia barely manages to keep up with Reilly to an acceptable degree. Hutcherson truly comes into his own during the showdown scene, and accomplishes his primary mission of providing a successful foil and troubled best friend for sheltered girlie-boy Darren.
The costumes are effective, just like the cinematography and special effects. With a traveling freak show to makeup and costume, neither task can have been typical. I only noticed the sound track during a short montage, so it must not be too extraordinary.
After watching the trailers for several months, I went to Vampire’s Assistant expecting to laugh because of how bad the movie was. I laughed because it was funny – honestly funny. There was no outstandingly bad acting. It made me want to read the books and see what we missed, and I want to see the sequel – maybe just to see the oh-so-refreshingly-different Vampire Crepsley continue to make Darren become less of a worthless baby and otherwise utter pansy.

The Quantitative:
Funniness: 7.5/10
Plot-iness: 2/10
Double Chin of Arch-Bad-Guy: 9/10
Love Interests: 1/10 (One had a tail. The other had a beard.)
How Much it Was Like Twilight or Every Other Vamp Movie: 2/10
Vampires: 7/10
Gore: 2/10 (It had “vampire” in the title. I would have settled for a side of gore.)
Objectively, How Much it Stinks: 3/10 – Congratulations; this gives you an objective how-much-it-doesn’t-stink score of … 7/10.

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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

Mitchi said...
Jan. 24, 2010 at 6:56 pm
I read the books years ago and was in love with them. The Cirque du Freak series is like my safety blanket; the love of my life. I was expecting the movie to break my heart but it wasn't so terrible, as you wrote. It was indeed a set up for more movies, and I do hope there will be.
I must disagree when you say the music was nothing special. I didn't notice it when I watched it, either, but after listening to a clip on Youtube, I was incredible impressed. I recommend listening to ... (more »)
Judith_Victorieuse replied...
Jan. 25, 2010 at 8:03 am
I think, in retrospect, that you are very right about the music in the film. Thanks for pointing that out to me. It's lovely to have feedback from someone who has read the books as well as seen the movie -- your comments are greatly appreciated.
bethie1996 said...
Nov. 26, 2009 at 10:01 am
i hav seen the film and it is totaly awesome
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