Saturday, 19 September 2020
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 00:00
cirquedufreakposterI wasn’t expecting much from Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, and perhaps that is why I had so much fun watching it! The latest film to soak an already saturated market of bloodsucker chic, it is competing for the same tween/teen crowd that Twilight has its fangs latched onto. Vampires are, like, SO hot right now. There’s a vamp for all ages – whether it’s the sexy Southerners of televisions True Blood, or puppy love with Edward Cullen, vamps are definitely making their mark.

Vampires are supposed to be suave, seductive and super sexy – so forgive me if John C. Reilly isn’t exactly the first guy who comes to mind. He’s a great actor, but with his ruddy Irish complexion and jovial face I kept expecting him to burst into a rendition of “Mr. Cellophane” from Chicago rather than bite someone’s neck. But he was actually an inspired choice to play Larten Crepsley, a vampire who’s sworn off killing people and chooses to live his long life as a performer with a troupe of circus freaks.

cirquedufreakpic1When the freak show rolls into town Darren (Chris Massoglia) and his best friend Steve (Josh Hutcherson) are eager to check out the show. They are disturbed by what they see – a “lizard boy” (Patrick Fugit), a beautiful bearded lady (Salma Hayek), a “wolf-man” – all of the performers seem to be the genuine article. And when Crepsley appears on stage with his performing spider, Steve recognizes him from a painting in one of his vampire lore books.

From then on a series of events happen that drives the two boys apart and forces Darren to become Crepsley’s assistant. In doing so he has to become a half-vampire and leave his family to travel with the troupe. Steve’s jealousy pushes him to take the side of the “Vampinese”, an evil group of vampires who still murder their prey. A supernatural war is about to begin.

cirquedufreakpic2The Vampire’s Assistant has a lot of clever humor and really fun moments, especially during the first half when the characters and story are being set up. It’s geared toward a younger audience but it has some pretty dark moments and I think I would have really freaked over this movie in a good way when I was a kid. What I liked about it is that it takes a fresh and very different approach to vampire lore, creating a setting and rules that apply to this series alone. A refreshing change.

The production is good, although the film wasn’t given the huge budget that other fantasy epics are granted. Special effects are decent but not groundbreaking. I liked the filming style, especially the punched up vibrant colors that really evoke that circus atmosphere.

My main concern is that the film has an ending that just begs for a sequel, and I’m not so sure the studio is backing it enough to grant one. It will all depend on how well it does at the box-office. I’d like to see the series continue because I think there is a lot of potential left untapped. Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant is an intro movie with some great vision that I fear may never be fully realized.