‘Assistant’ A Pleasant Surprise

by Wade McGrath

Skepticism was quickly replaced by enthrallment when I went to see ‘The Vampire’s Assistant’ late Thursday night. The movie is based on the first three books of a 12-book series that I’ve neither read nor heard about, so I had no clue what to expect.

filmofilia.comI was afraid it would turn into a lighter version of the “Twilight” flick that I’m sure you’ve all seen by now. Such was not the case, however, as “The Vampire’s Assistant” progressed quickly, with superb acting, from an “average-boy, average-life” plot to a chilling tale of ethics, decisions and acceptance.

Sitting right above all that super serious jargon that I enjoyed was a plethora of well-written humor that kept many scenes alive and thriving for everyone. The audience was cracking up, even during some of the moments that we all saw coming.

It is important to note that the movie defies some major conventions about the vampire genre, which gives this picture a unique feeling. This uniqueness can be captured in a fabulous dialogue quote between Darren Shan (Chris Massoglia) and Larten Crepsley (John C. Reilly): “Can I, like, turn into a bat and stuff?” “No. That’s bulls—.”

“The Vampire’s Assistant,” directed by Paul Weitz, follows Darren, a sixteen-year-old golden boy who would do no wrong under the sun. Contrarily, his best friend, Steve (played by Josh Hutcherson) is a bad boy, destined for trouble.

When Steve convinces Darren to cut class, they make some schoolboy mistakes that lead to Darren being grounded and banned from being Steve’s friend. Their life of small worries comes crashing to an end when they go to a one-night-only circus aptly named “Cirque du Freak,” a show that featured … well, you get the idea.

By the end of the night, Darren learns a secret about Steve and is confronted with a difficult moral decision which drastically affects how the next day plays out. In the end, Darren is forced to become the assistant of a crude, sour vampire, Larten Crepsley, who is both the main source of blunt comedic value in the film and simply amusing to watch in every scene.

Darren quickly finds out that he’s been dragged right out of his simple life and straight into his destiny, learning how to properly control his vampire powers for the coming war.

The movie doesn’t just leave itself open to the possibility of a sequel, but rather it points out to its viewers that a sequel will happen whether they want it to or not, as the main conflicts of the plot are not resolved by the time 108 minutes are up.

The movie has no shortage of serious drama, comedy, understated but well-directed action, or very light romance. I found that none of the elements of the film were particularly stifling or over-representative, which led to a well-balanced and thoroughly enjoyable experience.

This motion picture contains little to no blood (surprising for a vampire movie, I know) but has a decent amount of swearing for all you fresh-eared innocents out there. The movie nonetheless maintains a very creepy feeling from start to finish.

It’s definitely not a movie I would recommend seeing with kids as it’s more geared towards later-teen audiences. However, to those teens, I would say go for it! A fascinating movie with dark humor and noteworthy action should not go unseen.

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