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



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

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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 vampire named Larten Crepsley (John C. Reilly) while attending a traveling freak show at a local theater. Transformed into a bloodsucker by Crepsley, Darren joins the Cirque Du Freak and quickly ingratiates himself with the unusual cast of characters who populate it, including Madame Truska the Bearded Lady (Salma Hayek) and the traveling sideshow's towering barker (Ken Watanabe). As Darren works to master his newfound powers as a budding member of the supernatural underworld, he becomes a valued pawn between the vampires and their deadlier rivals, the Vampaneze. With tensions between the two sects intensifying, Darren must figure out a means of keeping the coming war from destroying his last vestige of humanity. Patrick Fugit, Orlando Jones, Willem Dafoe, and Jane Krakowski co-star.
PG-13 (for sequences of intense supernatural violence and action, disturbing images, thematic elements and some language)
Action & Adventure , Horror , Kids & Family , Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
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John C. Reilly
as Larten Crepsley
Chris Massoglia
as Darren Shan
Ken Watanabe
as Mr. Tall
Ray Stevenson
as Murlaugh
Patrick Fugit
as Evra the Snake Boy
Willem Dafoe
as Gavner Purl
Salma Hayek
as Madame Truska
Michael Cerveris
as Mr. Tiny
Don R. McManus
as Mr. Shan
Colleen Camp
as Mrs. Shan
Orlando Jones
as Alexander Ribs
Frankie Faison
as Rhamus Twobellies
Kristen Schaal
as Gertha Teeth
Patrick Breen
as Mr. Kersey
Jane Krakowski
as Corma Limbs
Drew Varick
as Loaf Head
John Crawford
as Audience Member
Ted Manson
as Policeman
Ann McKenzie
as Woman From Town
Monica Monica
as Teacher
Beau Holden
as Trucker
Patrick Fulton
as Kid Passing By
Tyler Chetta
as Kid in Hallway
Shaun Grant
as Vampaneze
Trey Burvant
as Singing Father
Beth Burvant
as Singing Mother
Evelyn Burvant
as Singing Kid
Anna Dawson
as Singing Kid
Jonathan Nosan
as Hans Hands
Madeline Gaudet
as Shrieking Student
Erika Jensen
as Rain Girl
Armal J. Perkins
as Mr. Pipps
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant

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

All Critics (135) | Top Critics (33)

This is one of the worst films of the year.

October 26, 2009
At the Movies
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | October 23, 2009
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

A vampire movie in sore need of a transfusion.

October 23, 2009
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | October 23, 2009
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

Harry Potter needn't call time out on his Quidditch game, and Edward Cullen can stick to his beauty rest.

Full Review… | October 23, 2009
Detroit News
Top 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.

Full Review… | October 23, 2009
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

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.

Christian C
Christian C

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.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

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.

Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

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