Even though they are classified as undead, vampires have been pretty lively this year. Joining the ranks of “The Vampire Diaries” and “Twilight,” character actor John C. Reilly (“Walk Hard”) turns in a biting performance as Larten Crepsley in “Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant.”
Darren and Steve visit the “Cirque Du Freak”
Based on the popular young adult novels by Darren Shan, “The Vampire’s Assistant” tells the story of young Darren (Chris Massoglia), a 16-year-old high school student that everyone thinks is a good kid, despite his obsession with spiders. His best friend Steve (Josh Hutcherson), on the other hand, has been a fan of vampires for most of his life.
One afternoon, the boys find a flyer advertising the Cirque Du Freak, which is billed as a 500-year-old freak show. Darren and Steve head to the show, where they see amazing performances by people with fantastic and frightening abilities. Darren is distracted, though, by Madam Octa, the exotic spider that is Crepsley’s best friend.
Tragedy forces Steve to join the undead in “The Vampire’s Assistant”
Unable to help himself, Darren steals Madam Octa, which leads to an unexpected tragedy. To put things right, Darren promises to become a “half-vampire” and serve as Crepsley’s assistant. Darren learns that being part vampire gives him special powers, but it also gives him an overwhelming need for fresh blood.
As Darren becomes accustomed to his new existence, Crepsley neglects to tell him about a vampire war that has been brewing for 200 years. Crepsley and his friend Gavner Purl (Willem Dafoe) have been trying to maintain a truce with the more bloodthirsty “Vampaneze,” but things definitely are about to change, and not for the better.
“Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant” is surprisingly good
Surprisingly good, “Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant” Is one of those family-friendly films that both kids and adults will enjoy. Although Chris Massoglia seems a little unsure in his performance as the half-vampire Darren, John C. Reilly carries the show as quirky vampire Larten Crepsley.
Salma Hayek gets to have some fun a Madame Truska, a beautiful member of the Cirque Du Freak who can grow a full beard within seconds. Orlando Jones, however, is pretty creepy as Alexander Ribs, a man who looks like he needs a really good meal. Jessica Carlson is totally adorable, though, as Rebecca, Darren’s love interest who has a little something extra.
Director and co-screenwriter Paul Weitz adds just the right dose of creepiness to “Cirque Du Freak,” making it scary enough to be entertaining. Weitz also borrows some bits from previous horror films, such as Jim Carrey’s “Once Bitten” and the classic thriller “Phantasm.”
“Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant” definitely is setting the stage for additional films. This movie has some issues, but if Weitz can correct them in future sequels, this could turn into a popular film franchise.
“Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant,” rated PG-13 for sequences of intense supernatural violence and action, disturbing images, thematic elements and some language, currently is playing in theaters.