Click here to return to the main site.

Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant


Starring: Chris Massoglia, John C. Reilly, Ken Watanabe, Josh Hutcherson, Ray Stevenson, Willem Dafoe and Salma Hayek
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 12
Available 01 March 2010

Darren (Chris Massoglia) and his best friend Steve (Josh Hutcherson) are both obsessed with the macabre. When they attend a freak show Steve recognises one of the performers as a vampire and Darren steals his pet spider. Steve confronts Larten Crepsley (John C. Reilly) and begs to be turned into a vampire, but Crepsley refuses, Darren flees the show only to be intercepted by Desmond Tiny (Michael Cerveris) and the vampaneze Murlough (Ray Stevenson). The next day Steve is bitten by the spider and Darren is forced to go back to Crepsley for the antidote. Crepsley demands that Darren become a half vampire in return for his friends life, a deal which Darren agrees to...

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant (2009 - 1 hr, 49 min, 03 sec) is a teen vampire movie based on the books by Darren Shan. The film was directed by Paul Weitz.

In truth, I was pleasantly surprised by this film with its cornucopia of mythical figures. Here we are presented with good vampires - the ones that drink the blood of their victims but leave them alive - and the vampaneze who believe in killing their victims, which is less logical as they are killing their only source of food. The film contains girls with monkey tails, a wolfman and enough freaks to keep a small special effects studio in business and for the most part the special effects in the film are highly successful. This turns out to be both the film's strength and the source of its weakness.

There is little astoundingly original in the plot of the film. Darren represents the young man, with a destiny, who only requires the tutelage of Crepsley to fulfil this. There is a nice touch in making his one time friend, Steve, his nemesis and there are some nice scenes with Darren trying to comprehend why, having reluctantly given up his own humanity to save Steve, should Steve then turn on him.

With so many characters some of the minor roles can feel a bit disjointed. Willem Dafoe plays an ally of Crepsley, but only turns up at the beginning and end of the film and adds little to the plot. The same can be said of most of the supporting cast, who may act well but are never around for long enough for the audience to do anything other than get a rough outline of their character.

The central cast of Massoglia, Hutcherson and Reilly produce some good performances. Massoglia brings a honest vulnerability to his character, which is at odds with Hutcherson's portrayal of Steve, who goes from best friend to loon in a blink of an eye. This is less critical of his performance rather than the rushed way the transformation was handled. The real star of the show is John C. Reilly who brings a perfect combination of wit and otherworldliness to his character.

If the film has a fault it’s that it felt too busy and too sanitised, certainly the content had been toned down from the books and in doing so the makers have removed much of the fear and anticipation from the film.

Even though this is a dark film the levels of detail and colour remain good, even if there is a less black detail than one would wish for. The film comes with options for an English, Spanish or French 5.1 DTS track with optional subtitles in the same languages.

On the extra side you get thirty-five deleted scenes (27 min, 17 sec), most of the scenes are character driven and makes you wonder why they were removed in the first place as many, if not most, would have benefited from this extra depth.

There is a three part Guide to Becoming a Vampire (19 min, 59 sec) feature which takes the viewer through from the books to the film adaptation, stopping off to take a look at some of the characters. It's not a very deep piece and may only appeal to hardened fans. Tour De Freak (18 min, 04 sec) is a quick tour of the circus allowing you to get a better look at some of the characters as well as their original concept artwork. The disc is rounded off with some picture in picture content controlled via the U-Control, more arse rumble for those who own a D-Box, BD-live and Pocket Blu, which allows you to use your iPhone/touch, Blueberry as a remote control and download film specific content.

I don’t know if they will make any more of the series, hopefully they will, as the film feels very much of a part one affair, with lots of characters introduced and background information provided. In itself it felt incomplete as what was missing was depth.


Charles Packer

Buy this item online

We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal
Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£13.85 (
£13.99 (
£13.88 (

All prices correct at time of going to press.