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Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant (2009)



Average Rating: 4.9/10
Reviews Counted: 135
Fresh: 51 | Rotten: 84

This overstuffed, scattershot vampire flick suffers from poor characterization and an unwieldy mix of scares and chuckles.


Average Rating: 4.1/10
Critic Reviews: 32
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 26

This overstuffed, scattershot vampire flick suffers from poor characterization and an unwieldy mix of scares and chuckles.



liked it
Average Rating: 2.7/5
User Ratings: 494,513

My Rating

Movie Info

Based on the popular series of books by Darren Shan, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant tells the story of a small-town teen who inadvertently shatters a 200-year-old truce between warring factions of vampires. Sixteen-year-old Darren (Chris Massoglia) is your typical adolescent; he spends most of his time with his best friend, Steve (Josh Hutcherson), earns decent grades, and generally manages to stay out of trouble. But trouble finds Darren when he and Steve make the acquaintance of a

Feb 23, 2010


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All Critics (136) | Top Critics (32) | Fresh (51) | Rotten (84) | DVD (1)

This is one of the worst films of the year.

October 26, 2009 Full Review Source: At the Movies | Comments (18)
At the Movies
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Unfortunately Weitz can't quite get a handle on what the film should be, despite teaming up with the talented Brian Helgeland on the script.

October 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
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A vampire movie in sore need of a transfusion.

October 23, 2009
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic IconTop Critic

We never get under the skin of anyone here. Freaks never become characters. They're objects of derision.

October 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
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Harry Potter needn't call time out on his Quidditch game, and Edward Cullen can stick to his beauty rest.

October 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Mixing horror and comedy while minimizing the gore, writer-director Paul Weitz serves up a witty adventure fantasy with a tasty dollop of schadenfreude.

October 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

teenybopper fiction brought to life on the big screen, realized as the first installment in a potential franchise that fails to offer reasons why mainstream audiences will want to follow it any further.

February 15, 2012 Full Review Source:

The film was based on a series of twelve books (that) must've screamed "franchise pay cheques!" to actors like Dafoe, Hayek and Reilly, who would usually have known better.

August 9, 2010 Full Review Source:

Weitz's screenplay (with Brian Helgeland) contains liberal splashes of humour, but in the end the film lacks an emotional hook, perhaps thanks to the lacklustre performances of the young leads.

July 4, 2010

Promises more depth and substance than it delivers, leaving all the fireworks of the visuals to drive the film's appeal

March 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

This adaptation never quite reaches the sunlight. The difficulty is the credible integration of the normal world with that of the freaks

March 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

What in the heck is going on here? Not scary, not funny. The story gets lost in the woods. Paul Chambers, CNN.

February 10, 2010 Full Review Source: CNNRadio

Reilly's Crepsley makes both the afterlife and any sequels to come equally appealing prospects.

December 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Orlando Weekly
Orlando Weekly

Plenty of good elements here, but a lack of cohesion and a lackluster performance by the lead actor make the film at best a decent rental.

December 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Spectrum (St. George, Utah)
Spectrum (St. George, Utah)

Not a thing in this movie is subtle, from its cheesy special effects to its by-the-numbers storyline to its cardboard cutout characters.

November 19, 2009 Full Review Source: PopMatters

The funny bits are amusing, the action entertaining, the themes simple, the promise of future tales tantalizing, and the overall feel of the movie is more charming than epic or scary.

November 19, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinerina

...a watchable (yet undeniably forgettable) endeavor.

November 18, 2009 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews | Comment (1)
Reel Film Reviews

...not the pandering exploitation film you might expect. It's not all pentup sexuality, ripened teen flesh and brooding ashen untouchable boys.

November 7, 2009 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

A colossal bore of a teen fantasy movie ... crammed with trite, prepackaged lessons.

November 3, 2009 Full Review Source: Horror Hacker
Horror Hacker

Cirque spins its wheels in first installment.

November 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Illinois Times
Illinois Times

Older moviegoers who can recall the spate of like-minded horror flicks from the 1980s will find much to appreciate.

November 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

A fun, energetic adventure with plenty of inoffensive ghoulish touches that should please kid and adult horror buffs alike.

October 30, 2009 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Inept to the core, The Vampire's Assistant never rises to the occasion.

October 30, 2009
Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)

To some extent, then, Paul Weitz's film is parasitically preying on an established trend, but it also has some fresh blood of its own.

October 30, 2009 Full Review Source: Sunday Times (UK)
Sunday Times (UK)

Infinitely more inventive than the sweetly romantic Twilight.

October 30, 2009 Full Review Source: Observer [UK] | Comments (3)
Observer [UK]

Its high production values - not to mention the world's cutest poisonous spider - can't paper over a tepid and drawn-out plot.

October 30, 2009 Full Review Source: Daily Mirror [UK]
Daily Mirror [UK]

Audience Reviews for Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant

Forget the Vampire -- the casting director clearly needs assistance! Dumb and poorly cast, but the film had a strange, Baroque charm that made it mildly entertaining nevertheless. And I can't help feeling that pitting the "vampires" against the "vampanese" (i.e., the violent vamps) was obliquely racist.
April 3, 2014

Super Reviewer

Playing out much like a young adult fiction book (which it's based off of) it's very clear that the slight disjointed feeling of the plot is the entire studio's fault more than the script's. They are trying to make the next children's franchise with the adaptation of the book of the same name by Darren Shan. The story suffers from the fact that they won't tell us anything concrete or lasting. The characters shown aren't all too developed, mostly because of the bias against using characters that were freaks. They slap on some moral message about equality, friendship, and the choices we make versus who we are, and they believe they can simply define someone as a freak and don't need personalities, relationships, and the intricacies of someone we all want to watch. Yeah, some lackluster effects are good and all, but I would rather hear what Jane Krakowski has to say then see her arm grow back (which was surely the most illogical part of the film.) Using her as an example, I didn't get to know that character one iota. Besides the likable main characters and crass word choice none of this ran as a film with a true plot, but an extenuation of a series of films. It wasn't even a true kids movie, since there is unneeded swearing and some strange choices in violence, the definition of what adolescents say in private, and the romantic angle between Darren (Massoglia) and some nothing girl who is, you guessed it, also a freak. The effects were, for the most part, very low grade, and the mythology between vampires and the "Vampenese" first of all just sounds like veiled racism, and second made either no sense, or left me incredulous. The powers of the vampires have been improved or made new amongst the other hollow vampire related faire as of late, but it wasn't enough to keep it from being camp. Reilly is for sure the best aspect of this film, though he shouldn't fit along with the rest of the cast. Yes, his accent is hard to place or awkward throughout, but his crude weirdness works well with the personality of the character. Most of the stars are for the fact I somewhat enjoyed myself even with all these flaws because it was never meant to be perfection, but some strange sub strait. I just wonder if it will indeed lead to a series of films.
November 22, 2011

Super Reviewer

Bad acting in this unfaithful unfantastic adaption to a fantastic book. John C Reilly gives a good performance but even he cant save the film from its unconsistent pacing.
November 14, 2011
Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

Once there was a book series called "Cirque Du Freak"...And it ROCKED! The characters were interesting, the plot had plenty of twists, and the story was pretty creati9ve. So when I heard there was a movie based of Cirque Du Freak, I had to see it. I loved the book series, I'd love the movie...It blew.

Not everything was horrible. The acting was actually really good, particularly the child actors. New comer Chris Massoglia was actually a nice surprise. He played Darren Shan really well. John C. Reily was amazing too, even if this isn't really his kind of movie. The biggest surprise was Steve Hutcherson, who was actually kind of menacing at some times. In fact, the only actor who did a bad job was Ray Stevenson.

Now I can go on to what I didn;t like. First of all, for other fans of the book series, this is absolutely NOTHING like the book. I think what most annoyed me was Darren's love interest, Rebecca the Monkey Girl. That's right, not Debbie, the Monkey Girl. Who is this Monkey Girl? She was NEVER mentioned in the book. Also, Evra's orgins are completely different too. In the movie, he was found in the dumpster. In the book, he was raised by a sadistic sideshow owner who beat him, but was rescued by the Cirque du Freak.

Another bad thing about the movie was Ray Stevenson's portrayel as Murlough. In the book, Murlough was crazy, sadistic, evil, clever and menacing. I've seen teddy bears more menacing than Ray Stevenson's Murlough, and he's the farthest thing from clever that you can get.

While "Cirque Du Freak" may not be superbad, it is very, very, VERY far from being great and is still pretty bad.
July 6, 2011
Marc L.
Marc Lewis

Super Reviewer

    1. Darren Shan: Can I, like, turn into a bat and stuff?
    2. Larten Crepsley: No. That's bullshit.
    – Submitted by Kyle S (15 months ago)
    1. Evra the Snake Boy: [whispers/chuckles] You're like Crepsley's bitch now.
    – Submitted by Amber R (2 years ago)
    1. Larten Crepsley: I will not make you a vampire.You must forget about it.Go home and get on with your life.
    2. Steve: No! I won't forget! I'll get you for this, I don't care how long it takes. One day, Vur Horston, I'll track you down and kill you for rejecting me!
    – Submitted by Meaghan C (2 years ago)
    1. Larten Crepsley: Don't use your fist. You have something better. Use your fingernails. Like this. (Slashes the tree).
    2. Darren Shan: (Darren tries) Aw. I think I broke a nail.
    – Submitted by Kazunori K (3 years ago)
    1. Larten Crepsley: Looks like you're in some deep shit, my larcenous friend.
    – Submitted by Madeleine G (3 years ago)
View all quotes (5)

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