By Peter Hall (reprinted from 10/8 -- Fantastic Fest)
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant has the unfortunate fate of arriving at the height of the vampire resurgence. I fear a lot of potential movie goers will dismiss it as part of the wave, as a major studio (Universal) trying to rush an adaptation of a very popular young-adult book franchise in an attempt to capitalize on the Twilight demographic. And while I understand that sentiment, in this particular case it's a shame, because Paul Weitz' film stands tall whether it was made inside or outside this temporary rise in the vamp popularity. Remove the cynical marketing climate and The Vampire's Assistant is a charming, imaginative, and most importantly, very entertaining film for children, teens and adults alike.
Having not read any of the 12 books comprising author Darren Shan's young-adult Cirque Du Freak saga, I can't attest as to how faithful an adaptation it is, but the macabre world About a Boy director Paul Weitz has brought to life on film feels like the kind of mysterious wonderland I could have easily lost myself in as a child. That's not to say that The Vampire's Assistant is a children's film, far from it, but it's the kind of film that's full of content that's simultaneously adult and juvenile, the breed of subtle scripting that provides eye candy for teenagers and nostalgic mind candy for adults.