NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by Courtney who says,"The Vampire’s Assistant is based on Darren Shan’s 12 book vampire saga Cirque du Freak. The film combines events from the first 3 novels of the series, though several modifications were made. In essence, The Vampire’s Assistant is an origins tale that establishes characters and conflicts that will be the focus of a potential sequel."
The opening scene is of 16-year-old Darren Shan’s funeral. Darren explains in voiceover that although life may seem to be routine, sometimes things don’t go as planned. As his best friend Steve places a rose on his coffin, the camera pans down into the ground to reveal a very alive Darren playing a video game in his grave.
Cut to high school where Darren and Steve meet up before class. Steve tries to convince Darren to ditch class, but Darren is reluctant; he gets good grades and is otherwise well-behaved, unlike Steve. However, Steve prevails and the boys head to the roof where Steve starts breaking lights with rocks. Darren is seen playing with a large spider, and initially refuses to break lights but eventually succumbs to Steve’s peer pressure. When Darren breaks one of the lights, the noise attracts the attention of one of the teachers, Mr. Kersey, and Darren is next seen in his house getting yelled at by his parents. His parents refuse to allow Darren to remain friends with Steve, who they fear is distracting Darren from a pre-set path of college-job-family, and ground him for two months.
The next day, Darren tells Steve that they have to keep their friendship a secret, which clearly hurts Steve’s feelings. As the boys are talking, a strange purple limousine drives by. A window rolls down and Mr. Tiny throws a green flyer at Darren and Steve. The flyer is advertising a one-night-only freak show and the boys are excited to go, even though Darren will have to sneak out. When Mr. Kersey finds the flyer in class, he tells the students that the freaks are being exploited for money and that no one should go.
Later that night, the boys ride their bikes to an abandoned theatre. A Little Person (a soul kept alive in a little shriveled body by Mr. Tiny) sells the boys tickets and they are greeted by Mr. Tall who asks if they are 21 and in good health. The boys lie and are admitted to the show. The show consists of a series of short acts by many of the freaks from the novels: the wolf man, Evra the snake boy, Rhamus Twobellies, Gertha Teeth, Alexander Ribs, Corma Limbs and Madame Truska the bearded lady (Crepsley’s girlfriend). The final performer is vampire Larten Crepsley and his spider, Madame Octa. Steve immediately recognizes Crepsley from one of his vampire books while Darren is entranced by Octa. Crepsley threatens Steve in order to silence him, but the show is raided by Mr. Kersey and some townspeople and everyone runs.
Darren hides in Crepsley’s dressing room and decides to steal Octa. Before he can escape, Crepsley returns with fellow vampire Gavner Purl so Darren hides in a closet. Crepsley and Gavner discuss the death of another vampire, Vincent, and of the strained truce between vampires (who drink human blood but don’t kill people by doing so) and vampaneze (who drain all the blood from their victims, thus killing them). Gavner believes that another war is coming but Crepsley doesn’t want to fight again. He tells Gavner that the war will certainly start if a vampire kills a vampaneze. The conversation is interrupted by Steve, who barges in and demands to be made a vampire because he hates his life. He confesses that his father left years ago and his mother is an alcoholic. Crepsley refuses and Steve threatens to kill him. Gavner grabs his throat and throws Steve out. Darren suddenly discovers a way out through the back of the closet and runs with Octa. He escapes to an alley and is met by Mr. Tiny, who gives him a ride in the limousine, narrowly avoiding Crepsley. Mr. Tiny is neither vampire nor vampaneze, but he is interested in igniting the war and he believes that both Darren and Steve are potential leaders. He plucks a hair from Darren’s head and returns Darren to his home, ejecting the boy’s bike from the limo’s trunk. Mr. Tiny is later seen picking up a wad of gum that Steve spits out, presumably to test his DNA and determine Steve’s destiny.
The following day, Steve meets Darren in the hallway and demands to see what Darren has in his backpack. Steve discovers Octa and just as the bell rings, he drops Octa’s cage, releasing her. This causes a panic and Steve starts chasing Octa with a broom, trying to kill her. Darren tries to stop Steve, and Steve is eventually bitten before Octa escapes. Steven falls into a coma and his hospitalized. Darren seeks out Crepsley and finds him in the theatre. Crepsley agrees to save Steve if Darren agrees to become his assistant and a half-vampire. Darren reluctantly agrees and the two share blood. Crepsley and Darren travel to the hospital and once Steve is saved, Darren sets off a “Code Blue” alarm, forcing Crepsley to escape. However, without Crepsley to guide him, Darren realizes that he is slowly becoming a danger to those around him because of his emerging vampire nature. Crepsley returns to Darren and tells the boy that he must fake his own death and leave his life forever. Darren drinks a blue potion that numbs him, allowing Crepsley to break his neck.
Once the funeral is over, Crepsley digs Darren up and releases him from the coffin. Before the two can set off, they are attacked by Murlaugh, a vampaneze sent by Mr. Tiny to kidnap Darren. After a long fight, Crepsley and Darren flit (move very fast) to safety in the Cirque du Freak winter camp. At the camp, Mr. Tall agrees to shelter Darren temporarily and he is told to room with Evra the snake boy and do chores around camp. Darren and Evra are fast friends and romance blossoms between Darren and Rebecca the monkey girl.
While Darren becomes accustomed to his life with the Cirque and as Crepsley’s assistant (feeding Octa, dusting Crepsley’s coffin, learning how to be a vampire, etc.), Steve is approached by Mr. Tiny. Mr. Tiny tells Steve that Darren is still alive and is living Steven’s dream of being a vampire. Steve is angry and aligns himself with Mr. Tiny and the vampaneze. Steve is blooded by Murlaugh and kills Mr. Kersey. Mr. Tiny travels to the Cirque camp in person to demand that Darren be turned over to him, but Mr. Tall delays making a choice and Mr. Tiny leaves and directs his Little People to spy on Darren. More vampaneze are soon dispatched to the Cirque camp to kidnap Darren who is weak because he refuses to drink blood. The freaks band together and fight off the intruders, but the vampaneze manage to capture Rebecca and advise Darren to “go home.” Realizing that his family is in danger, Darren leaves the Cirque while Crepsley is asleep. Darren’s family has in fact been kidnapped by Steve and Murlaugh who leave a note for Darren in his old home directing the boy to meet them at the theatre.
Once Crepsley realizes that Darren is gone, Octa reveals telepathically that he has gone home. Crepsley knows that he can no longer avoid the war and dresses in his old armor. Darren arrives at the theatre to find Rebecca and his family hanging from the catwalk above the stage. He is taunted by Murlaugh and finally Steve, who calls Darren a jerk for becoming a vampire. Steve tells Darren that his family will be set free if Darren kills Rebecca by drinking all of her blood at once. Darren refuses and Steve throws him across the stage. Darren is too weak to fight, but Crepsley arrives just in time to have it out with Murlaugh while Mr. Tiny watches from the balcony. Crepsley and Murlaugh fight and Rebecca frees herself using her tail. She offers Darren some of her blood. Darren initially refuses because he thinks that drinking blood will make him less human (he is only half-vampire), but Rebecca reassures him that being human isn’t what you are but rather who you are. Darren drinks, grows strong and returns to the fight in time to save Crepsley who then kills Murlaugh. Crepsley realizes that by killing Murlaugh, he has ended the truce. Steve and Darren now fight, revealing their hatred for each other, but before things get carried away, Mr. Tiny stops them because he says that they are supposed to fight at a later time. Mr. Tiny then sucks out Murlaugh’s soul and transforms him into a Little Person before departing with Steve in the limo. Darren’s family is safe, but Crepsley hypnotizes them so that they won’t remember that night’s events. Rebecca and Darren finally kiss before Crepsley interrupts them and the three return to camp.
Back at camp, the freaks vote to admit Darren to the Cirque but Crepsley warns him that they cannot stay for long because of the coming war. Crepsley is visited again by Gavner who congratulates him on striking back against the vampaneze and starting the war. There is something they have to tell Darren, but Crepsley says to wait until the next day.
Crepsley advises Darren to return to his tent to rest where a gift is waiting for him. It is a new coffin from Crepsley equipped with speakers. Darren admits to Crepsley that at first he was angry at having to become a half-vampire, but now he can’t imagine living his life in any other way.
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