Things get freaky fast for 16-year-old Darren Shan (Chris Massoglia) when his friend (Josh Hutcherson) takes him to a circus that’s chockfull of sideshow oddities. There, he meets vampire Larten Crepsley (John C. Reilly) and receives a life-changing bite on the neck. As the newest member of the mysterious Cirque du Freak troupe, Darren keeps company with Madame Truska (Salma Hayek) and sparks a war between the vampires and their rivals.
Before we get into the film, you are probably wondering just as much as I was…whats up with the weird title? Cirque du Freak gets its name from a 12 book saga published by Darren Shan. If you missed it on the shelves its because it is found into the teen literature section. Though for the record Wiki had the following synopsis of the series:
Cirque du Freak (Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare in the United States) is the first novel in The Saga of Darren Shan by Darren Shan. It is part of the “Vampire Blood Trilogy”, which comprises the first three of the 12 book saga. Cirque du Freak was first published in Great Britain by HarperCollins in 2000, and was later published in the Vampire Blood Series in 2003 and 2004. Cirque du Freak is now a major motion picture.
Vampire’s Assistant as we’ll call it for short is far from your usual vampire saga. Though for quick reference I did find it quite enjoyable. Viewers can on the most part call the film a sort of family horror film as it doesn’t have alot of controversial adult level horror we usually associate with. The film has charm and a few surprises for viewers. Cirque Du Freak is a traveling freak show that has been around for 500 years. Most of the the viewers are lead there by invitation or for clarity….a flyer announcing the event.
The freak show is indeed that. A vaudeville style presentation that introduced a whole line of odd looking charters to entertain the viewers and to show them a few things they never have seen. For starters we’ve got vampires, a lady who regenerates, a lizard boy, a giant, a bearded lady who can grow a beard at will, a man who has no stomach supported by only his spine and a few other weird anomalies.
They show up for a night to entertain and to quickly move on to the next location. John C. Reilly plays the 18th century vampire Larten Crepsley who for the record is one of the odder looking vampire characters on screen. Sporting his Gallagher meets carrot top hair he is menacing only slightly enough to intimidate young boys and girls. Though looks can be deceiving as he is a powerhouse of speed, knowledge and a razor sharp hand that acts as weapon when need be. The 2 main characters are played by Chris Massoglia as Darren Shan and Josh Hutcherson who plays Steve.
2 best friends, they are at their adolescent years where the future is uncertain and complicated. Josh hates his parents and Darren is confused about his. The idea of becoming a vampire has certain advantages that in one sense free them of many burdens. On the other it presents a whole lot more. We find out that the vampire and the Vampanese are at war. A middle man who calls himself Mr. Tiny is a intimidating neutral zone villain who seems to be at the center of the 2 types. He holds his own powers which include turning folks into tiny little munchkin people.
The story is a classic talk of good versus evil using the 2 boys as metaphors for directions in life. We get alot of the “them versus us” associations which I’m guessing is a segue into future sequels about the continuation of the events to follow. Darren develops a crush on a monkey girl, Patrick Fugit aka Evra the Snake Boy wants to become a rocker and Madame Truska played by Salma Hayek has a thing going with Larten Crepsley.
Astute viewers will quickly make comparisons to this season of Heroes which also has a pretty involved carnival style drama playing out. The film has alot of exciting action moments, war among vampires and a subtle tinge of light hearted play as the the movie progresses. It was one that I could actually sit thru with my whole family while still calling itself a form of horror film. Probably a bit closer to a Disney horror than a Lionsgate horror but it was fun to watch. Check it out for those looking for a change of pace and a pretty solid story plot line that has franchise written all over it. Vampires Assistant is just plain clever.
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant