Vampirism is the new monstrosity du jour, and in this adaptation of Darren Shan’s teen-lit novel, tweener boys get their own testosterone-infused variant of Twilight. Paul Weitz’s comedyhorror saga charts the coming-of-age odyssey of Darren (Massoglia), a goody-two-shoes high-schooler who agrees to become half-vampire to save his best friend (Hutcherson). The Count responsible for Darren’s transformation is Larten Crepsley (Reilly, depressingly featureless), who works in the world’s oldest freak show and leads a faction of the bloodsucking undead.
Crepsley’s at odds with a murderous fanged gang of rivals, though given the film’s chintzy special effects, dreary adolescent drama and general dearth of imagination – the troupe’s main attractions are a dull snake boy and a bearded Salma Hayek – the most prominent emotion The Vampire’s Assistant elicits is apathy. Until, that is, it reveals itself to be a prologue for an all-out war in future instalments, at which point the mismatching shots and recurring hollow maxims (‘It’s not about what you are; it’s about who you are’) inspire bloodlust on the viewer’s part. At the very least, such triteness will dredge up a desire to keep the Weitz family – brother Chris was responsible for the leaden Golden Compass débâcle – away from the first chapters of big budget franchises.