The tale of young Darren Shan’s slide into the dusk-colored world of vampires, necromancers and more, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant sees Darren and his best friend sneak into a traveling freak show and slowly fumble their way into a coming vampire civil war. Some of the dialogue is cheesy (Vampaneeze? really?), the film is campy and a certain special spider looks really pathetic but overall the film does a good job of setting the stage.
The film is designed to be the first film of a franchise and suffers for it. They try to cram too much into it, so it takes a bit to get going, but they still want to end on a cliffhanger of sorts. John C Reilly was a pleasant surprise in a fairly straight role, compared to his work in films like Talladega Nights and Step Brothers. He’s not your traditional vampire, but the story seems to go a long way to say that’s the point. Willem Dafoe, Salma Hayek and other supporting characters also do well by making you care about what they have to say while staying out of the spotlight. Overall, it’s another teen horror/action flick, but is more action than Twilight‘s romance. It tells the fish out of story well and sets the stage for some great follow-up possibilities.