October 8, 2010

Rabid Rewind: The Vampire's Assistant

Title: The Vampire's Assistant
Starring: Chris Massoglia, John C. Reilly, Salma Hayek
Director: Paul Weitz
Screenply: Brian Helgeland and Paul Weitz; based on the novel by Darren Shan
Released: Universal Pictures (2009)
Genre: YA Fantasy

I have never read a Darren Shan novel. Chances aren't much better that I ever will after seeing this movie, either.

Darren Shan (Massoglia) is a teenage boy who's bored and isn't happy with how his life is going. Boohoo, a nation weeps. I'm not sure how likable Shan is as a character in the books, but I thought he was pretty insufferable in the movie and I didn't really care about him as things started going wrong. Darren and his best friend sneak out to see traveling freak show. Darren's friend just so happens to be a vampire fanatic and recognizes one of the performers (John C. Reilly) from a book about vampires. One thing leads to another and Darren winds up being recruited to become a vampire after faking his death, while his friend becomes isolated and bitter after losing his friend then finding out he's alive and a vampire.

The movie is a dog's breakfast of what I assume is a much better composed storyline within the books. The story feels so slapped together, the characters are hardly fleshed out beyond the shallowest of motivations. And the villains come off as so stunningly ineffectual, it's a wonder they accomplish much of anything towards their ultimate plan.

I remember hearing this movie dismissed as one more Hollywood cash-in, a weak shot at getting a little residue money from the kids who love Harry Potter and Twilight. I doubted that, since I sincerely doubt those were the motivations of the author writing under the penname Darren Shan. But after seeing the movie, I can definitely see how people would think Paul Weitz and gang put little more thought than the bare minimum to get this film greenlit, shot, and shoved into theaters.

If there's a sequel in the works, I'll be shocked. It's not worth anyone's time beyond the most bored of fantasy fans who simply must see every Eragon, Inkheart, and Spiderwick Chronicles adaptation when they come out. I'd write more complaints about this disappointing film, but I fell I've wasted enough of my time already.


  1. I have a son who loves the books--never got into Harry Potter, but these finally have him reading. He made me read them. The movie is as horrible as you said, since it combined elements from 4 books into one less than 2 hour movie.

    now, the books aren't great literature, but the character is identifyable, and like any good fairy tale, the protagonist makes the reader feel like anything is possible--a person can control his/her own life despite insurmountable odds. Too bad movies never give that same feeling of hope.

  2. I actually just watched this last night, and I have to agree with your assessment. I laughed a couple times because I really like John C. Reilly. Otherwise, a bad movie all around.

  3. One of these days I may read the books, but it will be in spite of that movie. :)