Movie Title: Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant
Director: Paul Weitz
Release Date: October 23rd, 2009
Date Seen: Around when it first came out, and again on July 14th, 2012
Part 1 – Spoiler Free Quickie Review
I like this movie. It’s not great, it’s not horrible, and it’s a fun watch. I find it significantly lacking in the plot department. I mean – there’s a plot there, and it’s alright, but re-watching it this time I found it wayyyy too much build up for little climax. And yet, I still like the movie because I think it’s cute. There’s a lot of cute or funny scenes, some funny characters, and it’s worth a watch. It has the typical vampires that feed off humans and leave them alive versus the “vampanese” that actually kill the people that they are feeding off of. We get a lizard boy, a monkey girl, Salma Hayek as the Bearded Lady, and some other random creatures that make it interesting.
Part 2 – In-Depth Spoiler Ridden Review
The movie focuses around two boys – Darren (Chris Massoglia) and Steve (Josh Hutcherson). They are best friends. Darren is obsessed with spiders and Steve is obsessed with vampires. On day, they conveniently get invited to a one-night-only freak show. They go because their family and teachers forbid it in every way. We learn that Darren has over-bearing parents while Steve has none? Or something like that. So anyway, Darren sneaks out and meets up with Steve and they head to the freak show.
From the very beginning, they have a very strange encounter. What appears to be a tiny creature gives them their tickets and bites Steve on the hand. But whatever, they continue in. We meet Mr. Tall (Ken Wantanabe), who appears to be the director. We find out later that he is the circus director and is the big boss man in charge at the camp. The boys start watching the show and it is not your ordinary freak show. Instead of being illusions, or just unfortunate people, there are some weird things going on. There is a wolfman who bites a womans arm off – and it grows back. There is a man who can eat stuff and then (it seems) fart it back out into something else. For example, he ate some pipes and rods and then farted them into a bike shape. There’s also a lizard boy, a bearded lady…and then a man with a spider? What? It is Larten Crepsley (John C. Reilly) – who Steve immediately recognizes as a vampire from one of his many vampire books. He has a spider that of course, Darren is fascinated with, and thinks is beautiful. Crepsley reveals that just one bite can kill any man.
About this time, a teacher from the school and some other people come to shut the circus down. Steve and Darren both run off to avoid being seen by their teacher. Darren notices a door that is Crepsley’s. He goes in it and sees the spiders cage – and takes it – right as he hears people start to come in. He hides in the closet. He overhears Gavner Purl (Willem Dafoe) and Crepsley discuss the possible upcoming war between the vampires and the vampanese. Crepsley reveals that he’s always tried to stay out of it. About this time, Steve comes barging in and begs to be made into a vampire – Crepsley hackles him for a bit and then tests his blood by tasting it. Steve appears to have evil blood so they turn him away and make him leave. Purl leaves as well, right about when Crepsley notices that the spider isn’t here. He starts going towards the closet and Darren escapes through a secret door – with the spider. As he runs out, a car comes by and picks him up. In the car is Mr. Tiny (Michael Cerveris), a “human” that appears to be majorly in charge of everything and everyone, and his vampire minion, a vampanese by the name of Murlaugh (Ray Stevenson). Mr. Tiny is clearly trying to get Darren to join him, but Darren can tell that something is just not right with them.
The next day at school, Darren reveals to Steve that he was there last night – and not only heard Steve asking to be a vampire – but also that he stole the spider. They are clumsy and the spider gets out. There’s a horrible scene watching them try to “get” the fake animated spider – and the scene ends with the spider biting Steve. Steve, apparently, goes into a coma, so Darren goes straight back to the theater to admit to Crepsley what he did. Crepsley agrees to save Steve – if Darren becomes a half vampire and becomes his (Crepsley’s) assistant. Darren accepts and so Crepsley makes him a vampire. First he tests his blood and finds out that he has good blood. Then, he turns Darren by pricking each of their fingers and sharing blood. They “flint” (they kind of zoom across the land super fast) over to the hospital, he gives Steve the antidote, and then Darren tries to get Crepsley caught but he is gone too quickly.
The next day, we see that Steve is all better. At home – Darren has a moment when he almost lunges after his sister because he is hungry. Conveniently, that night Crepsley shows up. Darren has realized he can’t continue the way he is without Crepsley’s help. So – they fake his death. Crepsley gives him a drug, breaks his neck, and then throws up off a roof. At his funeral, everyone is all sad, but Steve notices the pricks on Darrens fingers – and thinks he is faking it. IE – he suspects that he is actually a vampire. Smart kid.
So, Crepsley goes to dig up Darren from the graveyard. After he’s all dug up – Murlaugh shows up and there’s a little mini fight but Darren and Crepsley gets away. They head to the camp. At camp – some fun stuff happens. Darren becomes the roommate of Evra the snake boy (Patrick Fugit) and makes friends with Rebecca (Jessica Carlson) – who we later find out is a monkey girl (ie she has a tail and is great at climbing). We get to see some of my favorite parts – like watching them do chores around the camp, making friends with each other, watching the other freaks, etc. There’s also these awesome little creatures that are made from the recently undead – that like to bite. They’re just hilarious.
So at some points during all these scenes, we see Mr. Tiny approach Steve about becoming a vampire… hmmm I wonder if he will? Mr. Tiny also comes to the camp once to ask if they’ll give up Darren. We’re unsure why he wants him – but whatever.
So eventually after more adorable camp scenes, one night the vampanese come to camp. The people in the camp try to fight them off – while Crepsley and Darren escape. Mr. Tall comes and yells at them all to leave – and they do – but only after they take Rebecca as well. Crepsley has to stay hidden, because it’s daylight – but Darren heads back to camp and finds out they’ve taken Rebecca and told someone to tell Darren that “they’ll see him at home”. He goes home and finds no one there, but a poster for the freak show. Darren goes to the theater. There he finds Murlaugh – and he has his (Darren’s) family and Rebecca strung up. And out comes Steve, revealing that he is now a vampire.
So this is where the movie falls flat. It has some potential to be a good decent fight scene, but there’s only like 30 seconds of them fighting – and then Crepsley shows up and there’s about another minute of fighting.
And woo – the nice vampires win. I could describe the fight but it’s just so disappointing that I’m not sure I want to. Just know that the climax is over in all about 5 minutes. Murlaugh dies, and Steve goes off with Mr. Tiny and Darren with Crepsley.
The end. Ah. They left the movie open for a sequel but it obviously wasn’t successful enough for one, and I’m ok with that.
It’s a cute movie, but it’s not great. It’s definitely a watch it on tv but don’t seek it out type of movie.