They're mysteriously introduced to a Cirque du Freaks for a one-night show in an otherwise abandoned theatre - and - well, it's too complicated & confusing to spell out briefly. Suffice it to say that the boys meet an ominous ringmaster (John C. Reilly, making the most of his freaky role), his vampire buddy (Willem Dafore) and a park full of attending freaks, from a werewolf to a lizard-faced fellow, to a monkey-girl, a gang of little Yodas and more. The film is flooded with anything & everything the digital & cosmetic people can do.
Darren becomes a semi-vampire (don't ask; I'm not sure about that either), gets involved with battles between the good vampires & the bad (yes, there are two kinds), then winds up back in the coffin again - without further explanation or ado. Prep for a sequel?
Obviously, an abrupt ending suggests at least one sequel to follow, with plenty of material from an original series, here in part brought to the screen by director Paul Weitz & Brian Helgeland. The visual effects are dazzlingly clever, as imaginative as that into, flashily edited in leaps, swift cuts & bounds to match the ambiance of creepiness that permeates the entire film. The weirdo largess takes over, however not quite concealing a lack of coherence or straight progression in plot; eventually, with that unexplained ending, the final effect is unsatisfying - lots of flair signifying little. Mystery & impressive creepiness alone are not enough for 100-minutes in the dark. Pity. (Grade: C+)