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Full Version: The Vampire's Assistant - My thoughts
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I did not see this movie in the theater in 2009. We rented the DvD instead.

As vampire movies go it's a very different take on the subject. I was unaware, until after seeing the movie, that it was based on a series of books called The Saga of Darren Shan, of which there have been 12 so far.

The movie tells how teenager Darren Shan and his best friend Steve are drawn to a show in their local town by the 500-year-old Cirque du Freak. One of the performers is Larten Crepsley, a 200-year-old vampire who just happens to appear in a book that Steve has.

After the show Steve confronts Crepsley and demands that Crepsley make him a vampire; Crepsley refuses to do that because Steve is "too young" and because Steve has "bad blood". On the other hand, Darren (secretly hiding nearby) hears everything, steals Crepsley's pet spider, and manages to create a situation where Steve is bitten by the spider.

In order to save Steve Darren makes a bargain with Crepsley: Darren agrees to become a half-vampire so he can do errands for Crepsley.

Of course, there is more to it than that. The evil Mr. (Des) Tiny has plans for the boys, whom he believes will trigger the Armageddon. So Mr. Tiny hooks Steve up with the Vampinese clan (who split off from the Vampire clan hundreds of years ago).

The film follows Darren as he seeks refuge with the Circue du Freak (which is "neutral" in the war between Vampires and Vampinese). There Darren becomes friends with Evra Von (the snake boy) and Rebecca (a cute girl who happens to have a monkey tail).

Evra's character is taken from the books but Rebecca's character is apparently just made up for the movie.

Darren learns a little bit about being a vampire, some small pieces of vampire history (Larten transformed the Vampire community with the help of two others, one of whom has recently been killed by the Vampinese), and that he is being pursued by the Vampinese.

So eventually the movie leads up to a finale where Larten and Darren must confront Steve and his Vampinese allies. Steve has taken Darren's family hostage (who believed Darren was dead because he and Larten faked his death) along with Rebecca. Darren has until this time refused to drink human blood, which Vampies/Vampinese need to drink in order to survive.

As Larten struggles to overcome his old nemesis Murlough, Darren gets trounced by Steve. But Rebecca uses her monkey tail to free herself and asks Darren to drink her blood. Darren reluctantly does so but then becomes strong enough to defeat Steve.

The movie's pacing is okay but the story is so obviously a setup for sequels that it probably failed to attract enough attention from the audience to guarantee there will be sequels. I don't think the story can decide whether it should appeal to adults or to kids. There is a little something for everyone.

John C. Reilly gave a great performance as Larten Crepsley. He shows he can really bring some depth to a character. Crepsley is, in fact, a rather interesting character. He doesn't seem to ever be a typical vampire. When he was first "blooded" vampires still drained their victims of blood when "eating", thus inviting whole communities of angry people to hunt them down.

Crepsley developed the technique of just gassing a victim and drinking a little blood from a shoulder wound (sort of like a mosquiito bite). Over time half the vampires followed Crepsley's advice and they formed a council, made some rules, and generally behaved well. But the other half called themselves Vampinese and insisted on draining their victims and killing them.

So in this universe Vampires = Good and Vampinese = Evil.

Crepsley has, by the time the movie begins, retreated into the neutral community of the Cirque du Freak; he seems burned out on Vampire/Vampinese politics. Nonetheless, he still has some feelings and eventually chooses sides again after meeting Darren Shan.

Reilly said he took the role because: "...it was a real person, that he wasn't some supernatural mystical being that can turn into a vampire bat. The powers weren't so extreme that it was just another thing altogether, that this guy was a person who was alive in the 1800s who was essentially about my age. If you account the slow aging, he is forty something years old...". (Quote lifted from IMDB).

If they do any sequels to the movie I hope Reilly reprises the role. Maybe another actor could follow through well enough but Reilly is really the heart and soul of this movie. It just doesn't seem to quite fire all thrusters successfully, however, and I suspect that the film franchise is dead (for now).
I meant to ask, is this Cirque du Freak? I'm not familiar with The Vampire's Assistant, but it sounds like the other title.
Yep, that's it - I think the movie was marketed more under its subtitle, The Vampire's Assistant.
august Wrote:Yep, that's it - I think the movie was marketed more under its subtitle, The Vampire's Assistant.

Interesting. Must be my lack of actual television or something. I only knew it as Cirque du Freak. I believe that's the name of the book series as well.
As I understand it, the Cirque du Freak books comprise only part of the series.