"Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant" is based on the first three books in the young-adult book series "Cirque du Freak: The Saga of Darren Shan Series." It follows the adventures of Darren Shan, an average teenager, with a vampire named Larten Crepsley and a traveling circus called the Cirque du Freak.
The movie starts with 16-year-old Darren and his best friend since childhood, Steve, going to freak show at a theater. Darren is fascinated by Larten Crepsley's ability to a make an exotic tarantula dance by playing a flute. However, freak shows are forbidden in the town, and town officials close it down partway through the show. In the melee, Darren steals the tarantula, which he takes home with him.
The next day the tarantula escapes, and it bites Darren's friend Steve when Steve attempts to squash it. Understanding the spider to be exceptionally poisonous, Darren goes to Crepsley to find a cure for his friend. The vampire is willing to provide the cure on one condition: that Darren become his assistant. This requires that Darren become a half-vampire and leave his family forever. To save his friend, Darren accepts Crepsley's offer.
Darren and Crepsley leave the town with the Cirque du Freak, as Darren tries to adapt to his new condition. He makes friends in circus who help him "be himself" and accept his new fate. At the same time, a war has developed between the vampires -- of whom Darren is now a part -- and the Vampaneze, supernatural beings who are extremely deadly and who have recruited Darren's friend Steve. In the end, Darren and Steve battle.
"Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant" has very positive messages and role models. Viewers see examples of acceptance, tolerance, self-awareness and self-sacrifice. Vampires are depicted as misunderstood, nonviolent creatures who are not immortal but rather age very slowly; this further demonstrates to viewers that one can't always judge a book by its cover or believe what "everyone says." Darren O'Shaughnessy, using the pen name Darren Shan, wrote the books to be as entertaining as the popular "Goosebumps" series but to carry a certain depth.
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