Vampire flick bores in spite of fabulous cast, props
Despite a lush array of wardrobes, an award-winning storyline and a stellar cast led by John C. Reilly, director Paul Weitz managed to suck the brilliance out of Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant.
Based on the young adult book series The Saga of Darren Shan by Darren Shan, The Vampire’s Assistant attempts to tell the tale of teenage buddies Darren (played by Chris Massoglia) and Steve (Josh Hutcherson) as they become vampires after meeting up with Larten Crepsley (Reilly) during a half-funny and half-creepy freak show.
For his role, Reilly lost the stench of the 2008 summer comedy Step Brothers to sink his teeth into the part of a caring, jaded and sometimes-funny vampire.
Established film stars Willem Dafoe, who plays a war-hungry ancient vampire, and Salma Hayek, the beard-growing Madame Truska, gave hope of a possibly entertaining film.
Both Reilly and Dafoe did what they could with the script. However, the film is a true waste of talent and time for all involved. The only value this movie has is if other filmmakers use it as a lesson on how to not make a vampire movie.
The Vampire’s Assistant alternates between scary, macabre, sincere, funny, innocent, human and hopeful without being convincing in any form. Funny lines often miss their marks in the midst of confusion.
Although The Vampire’s Assistant introduces several themes throughout the film, it does not drive any of them home. Instead, it makes a drop-off into the alley of could-haves and would-haves.
A theme of pursuing one’s own passions instead of going through the motions in finding a career, which was introduced in the beginning of the film, was not followed through with.
When the snake-boy character pokes fun at the indie rock culture and lingo, a sub-theme that could have been funny, he trails off as soon as he brings it up.
The producers of the film seemed to be too busy laying the foundation for a sequel with Mr. Tiny, played by Michael Cerveris, when they delayed the final fight between Darren and Steve, implying that they would fight another day.
One can only hope that the sequel will have some real action, or The Vampire’s Assistant will not find the same success that the Twilight and Harry Potter sagas have had.