Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant

Directed by Paul Weitz.
2009. Rated PG-13, 109 minutes.
Chris Massoglia
John C. Reilly
Josh Hutcherson
Michael Cerveris
Ray Stevenson
Salma Hayek
Jessica Carlson
Ken Watanabe
Patrick Fugit

Plot: In order to save his best friend's life, Darren (Massoglia) sacrifices himself by becoming a "half-vampire". He also finds himself in the middle of a war between the vampires and the "vampinese."

The Good: It adds some interesting new twists to vampire lore (like "super spit"). While doing so, it also forcefully removes some other traditional traits. For instance, there's no transforming into bats for these guys. Then again, do any vampires anymore? Anyhoo, this makes it fairly original and intriguing. There are also lots of interesting characters with quirky abilities.

The Bad: The tone is difficult to gauge. My first instinct is to say it's a comedy, played straight. However, other than the fact it looks like John C. Reilly is struggling mightily to not act goofy, it isn't funny. That would mean it's a serious vampire flick. The problem is it's too cheesy to engage us on a deeper level or offer up vampirism as a metaphor for anything relevant to viewers.

The Ugly: What happens to Madame Truska (Hayek) when she gets aroused.

Recommendation: Overall, it's an interesting watch that's sporadically entertaining. It's uneven tone make it a bit of a frustrating watch and give it the feel of a Disney Channel made-for-TV movie with a few four letter words sprinkled in.

The Opposite View: Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle

What the Internet Says: 6.2/10 on imdb.com (10/1/10), 37% on rottentomatoes.com, 43/100 on metacritic.com

MY SCORE: 5/10

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