Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant Review

Published 6 years ago by

Short Version: Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant is an entertaining “alternative” vampire movie that should appeal to teens – but it’s NOT for younger kids.

vampires assistant review Cirque du Freak: The Vampires Assistant Review
Screen Rant reviews Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant

I haven’t read the books this movie is based on (from what I understand, the first three books of a 12 book series – a lot to cram into one film) and I didn’t have any preconceived notions about it good or bad going in. Based on trailers and commercials I really didn’t know what to expect, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised… in most part due to John C. Reilly’s performance as Larten Crepsley, mentor to our burgeoning hero Darren Shan (played by Chris Massoglia).

Darren Shan is your basic “good kid” teenager. He gets good grades, stays out of trouble and listens to his overly “square” parents. He’s best friends with Steve (Josh Hutcherson), the “wild kid” who’s had a rough upbringing and has stood up for Darren over the years. They find out a freakshow (Cirque du Freak) is coming to their little hole in the wall town, and Steve talks Darren into sneaking out to see it. At the freakshow we meet Mr. Tall (played wonderfully by Ken Watanabe) – the man who runs the show and plays head of the family for the assorted misfits we are about to meet.

Some slight spoilers follow as an FYI to parents.

The stage show is VERY creepy for a film that parents may think about bringing younger kids to… It includes a man with a super-narrow midsection with his internal organs exposed, a man with two huge, grotesque stomachs and a scene where a werewolf rips off a woman’s arm. Throughout the film there are fight scenes that are very dark, aggressive and creepy, and some of the characters may be disturbing to kids under 10 in my opinion – under 8 or so I’d say forget it.

End spoilers.

Steve feels he has nothing to lose and wants to become a vampire, while of course Darren has no interest – guess what happens. Eventually Darren is “blooded” by Mr. Crepsley, who does this to protect Darren from the also quite creepy Mr. Tiny (Michael Cerveris, who gives another effective, if over the top, performance). It seems Mr. Tiny’s mission in life is nothing short of bringing on the apocalypse and he’s looking for a young man to fulfill some prophecy.

There’s a split in the vampire community – there are “good” vampires like Mr. Crepsley, who figured out (finally, if you ask me) that it’s better to just draw some blood from a victim and leave them alive with no memory of what happened than to kill them, thus avoiding the whole “driven out of town by people with pitchforks” scenario. On the other hand there are the “old school” vampires called the “Vampanese” who kill their victims and drain them dry (Mr. Tiny, while not a vampire, is on their side).

Mr. Crepsley decides to hide Darren among the freaks in their circus camp. We meet a variety of characters including the rather engaging snake-man Evra Von (Patrick Fugit) and the rather normal looking young lady Rebecca (Jessica Carlson). Eventually Darren comes to see them as people and not as whatever oddity they display.

The film is an odd combination of humor and serious/kid-scary scenes. John C. Reilly is really a joy to watch in every scene, conveying the ascerbic humor of his character perfectly. I also enjoyed the heck out of Ken Watanabe here – so wonderfully… strange. And I couldn’t take my eyes off the creepy, mesmerizing Michael Cervis as Mr. Tiny. Salma Hayek co-stars with her abundant cleavage (see the movie and you’ll get what I mean – not that I’m complaining) and Willem Defoe makes a brief appearance that is memorable despite his lack of screen time. The young leads were adequate, but nothing very memorable – Massoglia was no doubt chosen for his teen eye candy appeal.

While The Vampire’s Assistant is a hard movie to nail down as far as tone, I really did find myself enjoying it for what it was throughout its entirety. I think teens and even adults might enjoy it, but leave the little ones at home for this one – trust me on that.

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

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  1. I was a huge fan of the books. Unfortunately I’m suspecting they left alot out.
    Guess I’ll have to deal with it.

    Oh yeah, and if anyone tells you they ripped off twilight.
    The first Cirque du Freak came out in 1999

    looking forward to seeing it tommorow

  2. This looks ok actually, kind of an anti twilight in a way.

  3. Interesting review VIc.
    From the trailers I thought this movie looked like garbage, but after reading your review I might give it a chance on DVD.

  4. @INK

    Yeah… it’s getting hammered by a lot of critics, but I liked it.


  5. I don’t listen to “Critics.” I’m more inclined to believe actual reviewers like yourself and others here on Screenrant.
    No charge for the plug. :)

  6. Im debating on wether or not to watch this or Astro boy as from the various sights Ive been too pretty much tie the two films quality wise.

    Everyone is a critic some just get paid more than us, no reason to hate them for that.

  7. Who said anything about hating critics? I said I don’t listen to them. BIG difference.

  8. When I saw that picture on the top, I thought that Don Imus was in the movie. 😛

  9. I read these books years ago to my daughter, and have forgotten most of the content, so I’m quite looking forward to going to see the movie tomorrow with her.
    Great review Vic, I was getting alittle worried we wouldn’t enjoy the movie given the critics opinions, [even though I thought the trailer looked ok] I should be more like INK and not listen to critics, and pay more attention to you.

  10. I saw the movie last night, and I was a little dissapointed. I love this ganre of movies, the fantasy/supernatural kid’s/teen movie like last year’s City Of Ember. I walked into that theatre hoping for a movie I’d want to watch for a second time, and I did’nt find much of a reason to see it again.

  11. I might actually go see this, after reading your review, the previews make it look kinda campy.

  12. SPOT ON! It’s really true. This movie was a breath of fresh air. I don’t know about you guys, but i have gotten tired of all the Sci-fi films lately (Transformers? Don’t make me vomit. Let me know who pays you guys to trash that movie because i want some money too!). It’s about time someone made a great vampire film. It’s been 14 years or so since Interview with the Vampire and I personally think that hollywood should follow this vampire trend and make a few more movies on the subject.

    • a men to that cirque is more classy and 10000000x better then twilight

  13. It makes me wicked mad that this movie tanked. I loved it.

  14. I’m glad that this movie has people that like it, but I didn’t think that the movie was constructed well, the plot was lacking which normally happens when you cram in three books into one movie. I walked away disappointed, since I was hoping to love this movie.

  15. I’ve read all the Cirque du Freak books and I loved them a lot. When I heard they were going to film them, I was very excited about it but to be honest, after watching the trailer, my expectations dropped a lot. I don’t think I’ll enjoy the movie as much as I have enjoyed the books but I still want to give it a try although I’m affraid a lot of things which appear in the books won’t be in the movie

  16. I just wanted more defoe

    maybe next time :(

    read the first book and this movie was not based on that 1st book.

  17. should of been made 1 book per movie

    has michael bay sindrome

  18. I’m a bit disappointed you mentioned nothing of Ray Stevenson’s brilliant performance as Murtaugh. He stole the show in every scene he was in.

    I enjoyed the movie for the entertainment value alone. I never read the books, but found the story compelling enough and the acting really enjoyable.

  19. I’ve recently read the books, and I was VERY disappointed. They warped the story line so much I couldn’t enjoy it. If you havn’t read the books though, you may like it.

  20. Starts like the book, but continous completely different. This movie was complete BS. One of the main characters was completely left out. The story made NO SENSE whatsoever.