Cirque du Freak: the Vampire's Assistant

Cirque du Freak: the Vampire's Assistant

Paul Weitz (2009)

12A Certificate


Our Score
Director Paul Weitz fails to capture any plausible magic or teen angst in this superficial treatment of the first trilogy in Darren Shan's popular book series for young adults. The casting of bland Chris Massoglia is no help, either; he plays Darren Shan, the small-town youth who unknowingly breaks a 200-year-old truce between warring vampire factions when he becomes involved in the vaudevillian lives of a group of misunderstood sideshow freaks. At least John C Reilly brings some class to his role as Shan's undead mentor Larten Crepsley. But there's so much plot information and so many colourful characters (played by the likes of Salma Hayek and Willem Dafoe) crammed into this unevenly toned coming-of-age fantasy, it seems more about setting up the sequels than making a decent original. With a new set of vampiric rules (powerful super spit, narcoleptic breath exhalation) proving as hokey as the creatively moribund visual effects (the ragged super-fast running sequences being the worst contenders), this attempt to emulate the Harry Potter franchise is an unwieldy combination of botched humour and larky thrills.


A teenager pays a visit to a travelling freakshow, only to end up being turned into a vampire. He agrees to join the circus, learning the ways of the undead from the bloodsucker who transformed him, but is drawn into a war with a rival vampire faction. Fantasy adventure, with Chris Massoglia, John C Reilly, Salma Hayek and Willem Dafoe.

Cast & Crew

Larten Crepsley John C Reilly
Mr Tall Ken Watanabe
Steve Josh Hutcherson
Darren Shan Chris Massoglia
Madame Truska Salma Hayek
Gavner Purl Willem Dafoe
Murlaugh Ray Stevenson
Evra the Snake Boy Patrick Fugit
Corma Limbs Jane Krakowski
Gertha Teeth Kristen Schaal
Rhamus Twobellies Frankie Faison
Alexander Ribs Orlando Jones
Rebecca Jessica Carlson
Mr Tiny Michael Cerveris
Mr Shan Don McManus
Mrs Shan Colleen Camp
Mr Kersey Patrick Breen
Annie Morgan Saylor
Director Paul Weitz
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: UniversalGuidance: Violence, swearing.Available on: DVD and Blu-rayReleased on: 23 Oct 2009