Thursday, April 11, 2013

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant

Life may be meaningless. But death, I still hope for.

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant | A Constantly Racing Mind
If you are planning to see any vampire film this spring, I think you should see the "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant". The movie is enchanting, entertaining, and visually stunning. Based on the "Cirque du Freak" books by Darren Shan, the movie seems to encompass the first two books of the series. Suspending reality for this movie is effortless with the help of John C. Riley as Larten Crepsley a 200 hundred year old vampire and a main attraction (along with Madam Octa) at the Cirque. This fun movie, set in an anonymous town, tells the story of two high school boys representing two opposing forces finding themselves entrapped in the world of vampires, freaks, and the walking, talking dead.

Darren Shan, a straight A student at Beckham High School, and his best friend Steve, from the wrong side of the tracks, have been friends since at least second grade, find them invited to Cirque du Freak as it passes through town. The boys, admonished not to go by their chalkboard scraping history teacher,Mr. Kersey, the boys go. Both boys have a secret passion for the perverse. Darren's, as he explains in a voice over, that spiders captivate him, while Steve, played by Josh Hutcherson, his best friend is fascinated by vampires. During the freak-show we meet most of the cast, Gavner Purl, (Willem Dafoe looking a lot like a creepy Cesar Romero, during his Joker days), Hibernius Tall (Ken Watanabe), Madam Traska, a bearded lady, (Selma Hayek), Evra Von, the snake man, Rhamus Twobellies, a werewolf and the deceptively large and seemingly evil Mr. Tiny, played by remarkably fit Michael Cerveris. Mr. Tiny and his henchman Murlough a Vampaneze, approach both boys, trying to recruit them for some evil scheme that he has in the works. 

Steve, Darren's best friend, is from a broken home and wants to become a vampire, and interrupts Crepsley and Gavner while they discuss the state of Vampire verses Vampaneze affairs. Steve wants to be a vampire, but Crepsley rejects him, stating that he has, bad blood. All through this film and undoubtedly through out the book series, the author creates his own set of vampire lore. Steve, rejected meets up with Darren, who stole Madam Octa and witnessed the rejection scene while hiding in a closet. At school, the boys get together and inadvertently let Madam Octa loose at school, while trying to catch the spider running amok through the halls, Steve is bitten and falls into a coma. Darren, in an effort to save Steve's life, trades his life to become a half-vampire and Crepsley's assistant. Crepsley saves Steve's life and fakes Darren's death, and Darren goes off to live with Crepsley at the Cirque du Freaks winter campground. The Cirque, a haven for freaks, claims neutrality from the two factions of vampires; receives a visit from Mr. Tiny as he requests Darren Shan be turned over to him. Mr. Tall says he will consider it, setting the stage for the climatic showdown. Meanwhile, seduced by the dark side and his lust for power, Mr. Tiny recruits Steve to the Vampaneze faction as their future leader. Like joining a gang, Steve must be initiated and he does so by killing their history teacher, Mr. Kersey.

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant John C. Reilly and Chris Massoglia | A Constantly Racing Mind

Oddly enough, Paul Weitz director of "The Vampires Assistant," is the brother of Chris Weitz, director of the new "Twilight" movie, "New Moon," the other vampire movie out on DVD. Both movies focus on teenagers falling in love with the vampire lore, however, I find that "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant," fun, fresh, fast paced, and leaves the audience wanting more. The casting of character actor John C. Riley in the part of Larten Crepsley was smart and refreshing. Chris Massoglia plays 17-year-old Darren Shan, (pen name for the author Darren O'Shaughnessy) and I feel he does a superb job portraying Crepsley new assistant. 17-year-old Josh Hutcherson plays Steve, taking on the bad-boy role. The special effects on this movie help the story progress rather than reveal themselves for their own sake. Stephen Trask's film score, works well for this movie, creepy yet playful keeps the mood interesting. I enjoyed Nick Cave's Red Right Hand, playing while Crepsley digs up Darren out of his untimely grave.

Overall, I enjoyed this movie better than the other vampire movie out on DVD and recommend "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant," for the whole family. Note the PG-13 rating, but I think its worth watching.

Movie Data

Genre:   Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Horror, Thriller
Year:  2009
Staring: John C. Reilly, Josh Hutcherson, Chris Massoglia, Jessica Carlson, Ray Stevenson, Michael Cerveris, and Salma Hayek
Director: Paul Weitz
Writer:  Paul Weitz, Brian Helgeland
Rating:  PG-13

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