gaming since 1997

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant

Darren and Steve are each other’s best friends eventhough they’re opposites. Darren comes from a good home and has a love for spiders, while Steve’s parents are separated and he’s obsessed with vampires. When the two visit a freak show that has arrived in town for one night, Steve recognises one of the performers who has a giant spider as the notorious vampire Larten Crepsley. Darren isn’t so much interested in Larten as he is in Larten’s spider and when the show gets interrupted by “concerned people”, Darren slips in Larten’s dressing room and kidnaps the spider.

The day after at school, the animal escapes and when Steve tries to kill it, he gets bitten and falls into a coma. Completely in despair about his friend’s accident, Darren goes to ask Larten for an antidote. Larten is willing to help Darren save his friend, but on one condition: that Darren becomes a half-vampire and will become his assistant. Darren reluctantly agrees but when the evil Mr. Tiny shows up, it becomes clear that Darren and Steve are part of bigger events to come and having been turned over by Larten is just the start of a big adventure…

Sound and Vision:
The image with its neon and flashy colors on dark background does a fine job in bringing over the atmosphere although things are a bit on the dark side which isn’t always in line with the tone of the movie. Technically we have to say that the level of detail and contrast are fine and overall the image is as what you would expect from a recent DVD release.

The same can be said about the sound: it does its job finy without making any waves. The surrounds do their job when necessary but the soundtrack isn’t really stunning.

– Deleted Scenes
– How to become a vampire
– Freak Tour

Harry Potter and Twilight have had such an immense success that companies are looking for more teenage “horror” that can be exploited for making a buck. And hence we now have “Cirque du freak: The Vampire’s Assistant”. Based on the books by Darren Shan (yup, the guy named his lead character after himself) we get to see a magical world in which there’s two types of vampires, a war that’s at hand, and two teenage boys that get caught in the middle. All stuff that can make for a compelling story and a great mix of action, adventure and emotion.

Unfortunately, we get left behind with some mixed feelings. Some of the cast do an excellent job (John C. Reilly, Willem Dafoe, Ray Stevenson) while others (Salma Hayek, Chris Massoglia, Josh Hutcherson) leave a less lasting performance. And that’s exemplary for the entire movie.

The main character, Darren, is a nice boy who wants to do everything right all the time, has no “dark side” and feels like a cardboard figurine while in fact he’s just become a vampire which you would expect to give him some additional depth. Steve on the other hand isn’t a bad person per se, but when turned into a vampire he suddenly becomes this wannabe bad-ass. The story also has some problems as there’s plenty going on which leaves quite a lot of loose ends at the end of the film and requires a sequel. A sequel we still have to hear about at the time of writing.

The basic ingredients of this movie are in my opinion stronger than those of Harry Potter (which I find highly overrated) but the way everything is set up unfortunately doesn’t manage to capture you as well as it should. And that’s a pitty as Cirque du Freak has potential and might have become great if some more depth was added to the lead characters and things wouldn’t have been finished off some simplistic. What we’re left with is an enjoyable family movie that clearly needs a sequel to get the story up to speed but the mediocre success up to now doesn’t really promise for the best in that regards.

Our Score:

posted in: DVD, Reviews, Universal

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