The reinvention of vampires isn’t working.
Writers such as Anne Rice, Stephanie Meyer and Darren Shan have turned the tortured into the trivial. They fall in love. They don’t kill people. They’re philosophers, and some of them even stay in high school for 80 years.
How boring is that? Leave them alone. Some of the best horror films in history belong to Dracula and clones. Blood-suckers are intense and terrifying, they don’t need revamped.
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant combines books one through three of Shan’s 12-book series The Saga of Darren Shan. It is directed and co-written by talent titans Paul Weitz, who did About a Boy and In Good Company, and Brian Helgeland of Mystic River and L.A. Confidential fame. They give the film a dark, authentic and original look.
Their struggle is that it’s the set-up movie of what will obviously be at least two, maybe three more. Of course that depends on the income of movie one. Set-up movies are boring.
You’re given the details of how Darren and his best bud Steve become vampires and get tossed center stage into a several hundred year war between vampires — who are good guys — and the vampaneze, the blood-sucking evil. Darren is just a half-a-vampire so he can go out during the day and run errands for coffin-bound John C. Reilly’s Lartin Crepsley.
Packed with great character actors and anchored by Reilly (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story), Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant can’t make up its mind if it wants to be a comedy or a straight-ahead drama. Stuck in the middle with nowhere to go, the plot turns to mush and crawls to a to-be-continued ending.
Bottom-line: this vampire movie sucks.
Mr. Movie rating: 3 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes, violence, some intensity. It opens Friday, Oct. 23 at the Carmike 12 and at Fairchild Cinemas 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.