Director: Paul Weitz
C. Reilly, Josh Hutcherson, Chris Massoglia, Ray Stevenson,
Patrick Fugit, Ken Watanabe, Salma Hayek, Orlando Jones, Willem
RunTime: 1 hr 49 mins
Released By: UIP
Rating: PG (Some Violence)
Official Website: http://www.thevampiresassistant.net/
Opening Day: 7 January 2010
Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, based on the popular
series of books by Darren Shan, is a fantasy-adventure about
a teenager who unknowingly breaks a 200-year-old truce between
two warring factions of vampires. Pulled into a fantastic
life of misunderstood sideshow freaks and grotesque creatures
of the night, one teen will vanish from the safety of a boring
existence and fulfill his destiny in a place drawn from nightmares.
16-year-old Darren (Chris Massoglia) was like most kids in
his suburban neighborhood. He hung out with his best friend
Steve (Josh Hutcherson), got decent grades and usually stayed
out of trouble. But when he and his buddy stumble upon a traveling
freak show, things begin to change inside Darren. That’s
the exact moment when a vampire named Larten Crepsley (John
C. Reilly) turns him into something, well, bloodthirsty. Newly
undead, he joins the Cirque Du Freak, a touring sideshow filled
with monstrous creatures from a snakeboy and a wolfman to
a bearded lady (Salma Hayek) and a gigantic barker (Ken Watanabe).
As Darren flexes his newfound powers in this dark world, he
becomes a treasured pawn between the vampires and their deadlier
counterparts. And while trying to survive, one boy will struggle
to keep their brewing war from devouring what’s left
of his humanity.
Does it not feel like the wave is never going to stop with the obsession about vampires? Fresh from the hullabaloo over the second installment of the Twilight franchise, yet another vampire related movie comes along, though not exactly in the same vein as that of the Cullens and gang. This reviewer is certain that there are audiences out there who would love to see the likes of Anne Rice’s works gracing the screens again but I guess everyone can be content that there is at least one good show like True Blood left on the television, but I digress.
Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant is an adaptation of famed teenage-fiction novelist, Darren Shan’s book. The movie is also a combination of all three books from Darren Shan’s trilogy of books, The Saga of Darren Shan. Despite this, the movie feels like it has been set-up for a sequel. Also, as the very lengthy title suggests, the movie is not only about vampires but also involves a bunch of freaks and creatures.
The movie revolves around Darren (Chris Massoglia), a sixteen-year old whose life turns upside down when the freak circus rolls into town. His best friend, Steve (Josh Hutcherson), a boy who desires to feel loved, drags the nice, well-loved Darren to the freak circus. At the circus, Steve recognizes the vampire Larten Crepsley (John C. Reilly) from his vampire books and begs to become a vampire. Turned down by Crepsley, the two boys are then involved in quite a predicament when Darren ends up having to become a half-vampire and having to fake his death. Yes, as convoluted as it may sound, it is more or less how the story goes. And oh, not forgetting of course, the existence of two vampire clans (a chance here to delve into more hoopla about Vampires and Vampinese) and how one’s call causes a century old truce to be broken (where have we heard this before? Hmm…) That said, this movie is not exactly one to remember.
The movie is directed by Paul Weitz. Yes, the other Weitz brother who did not get to direct that New Moon movie. For a vampire movie, the pacing prods along so slowly that one would feel that he would have aged upon leaving the cinema. It is also amazing that the performances from the two leads, Chris Massoglia and Josh Hutcherson were as exciting as watching paint dry. Massoglia seemed a little lost and too cardboard for a lead and his opposite, Hutcherson was hamming things up for too often for too long, this despite his great performance in Bridge to Terabithia. Even the ever reliable John C. Reilly delivered a muted performance. And it is pretty amazing to note that the rest of the supporting cast were made up of fantastic actors like Willem Dafoe, Ken Watanabe and Salma Hayek, all of whom should consider opting to include this outing in their resume.
If you are thinking of getting started on a vampire movie, this is probably not the best choice. Uninspired, dreary and a whole lack of bite, it feels like a laissez-faire attitude has been taken in the making of this movie.
(Another 'wanna-be' among the many vampire movies that is better left alone)
Review by Mohamad Shaifulbahri