Marvelous reckless abandon in Cirque du Freak – The Vampire’s Assistant, falls prey to an invisible, ill timed hand of meaningless restraint. The restraint is not only unnecessary, it puts a lampshade over the brilliance in this movie.
Goodie-two-shoes Darren Shan (Chris Massoglia) and his bad influence friend Steve (Josh Hutcherson), sneak off to attend Cirque du Freak, a traveling freak show. Amongst the standard freak show staples is a beautiful dancing spider, Octa owned by Larten Crepsley (John C. Reilly) and Darren is instantly hooked. His obsession with the spider leads him down a path that changes his life forever.
I don’t know if writers Paul Weitz and Brian Helgeland were fighting with the studio or with each other, but there is an obvious push-pull in Cirque du Freak – The Vampire’s Assistant which leaves the viewer with whiplash. There are times during Cirque du Freak – The Vampire’s Assistant that I felt I was watching inspired film making. At other times, the inspiration is sucked into a vacuum of despair.
As is the theme with Cirque du Freak – The Vampire’s Assistant often, the conversations bounce between freakishly hysterical, and, not a moment later, is so bad the entire audience groaned, out loud while slapping their foreheads in disbelief. Literally.
At times, visuals were creative, interesting, glittering and spectacular. The exaggerated sets and stunts are almost enough to make me giggle like a little girl. Just as quickly as the child-like snickering came, it disappeared, and all that was left were loud colors and dreadful purple lighting dimly illuminating half-developed characters.
It may not have even been that the colors were dreadful, but that the scenes lasted way too long. Every aspect of Cirque du Freak – The Vampire’s Assistant lingered on screen long beyond its expiration date. In fact, each exaggerated aspect takes up so much time, the filmmakers didn’t have time to include a complete plot. They ended the movie somewhere around the middle of the plot, without a real climax and while leaving the door open for a sequel.
Cirque du Freak – The Vampire’s Assistant strives to satisfy one’s senses of whimsy, adventure, and fantasy with a bit of cinematic candy but the filmmakers leave it in the mouth so long, it becomes nothing more than a gag.