Question: what film’s cast has six Academy Award nominations tied to their previous work, but tackles the delicate issue of the war between vampires and the vampaneeze (seriously, I don’t make this crap up)? It’s the Cirque du Freak, Cirque du Freak, it’s Cirque du Freak-y. Yep, that’s the funky film I watched today. Word.
So, in case you are part of the 98% of the population that missed this film when it was released, let me provide a quick recap. Darren is just your average, run of the mill, voice-over providing, teenage boy who lives with his parents and sister. According to his introductory dialogue, he says he is fairly popular in school (I would argue that he may also be delusional), but his best friend, Steve, has some type of anger issues and is obsessed with vampires (I know this description could perhaps be applied to a decent percentage of teenage girls who have read the Twilight series; but in this film, it describes a boy).
Steve and Darren happen upon a freak show advertisement, and decide to check it out. They were apparently unaware that this was no ordinary freak show. No, this show had an all-star cast (sweet!). There was John C. Reilly as Crepsely, a vaudevillian vampire with a performing deadly spider, Orlando Jones (reprising his role as a 7-Up spokesperson 😉 ), Salma Hayek as the bearded lady, Ken Watanabe as the telepathic head of the show (pun perhaps intended??), Jane Krakowski as some lady who can regrow body parts, and the stalker woman from Flight of the Conchords (who I think showed up on the wrong set during a shoot and ended up in this film). What a show!
Of course, Darren, who has an extremely unhealthy obsession with spiders, decides to steal the vampire’s spider. That’s never a good idea. The giant arachnid bites his buddy, Steve; forcing Darren to confront the vampire in an attempt to cure his bff. As we all know, nothing in this life is free, and Darren has to pay for the antivenom with his promise to become an assistant to Crepsely—and to become a half-vampire himself (dun, dun, DUN!!!!). Now, before all you vampire-wannabes try to steal spiders in an attempt to be offered this deal; be forewarned that these vamps aren’t as cool as Bunnicula or those in the Sookie Stackhouse series (rest assured, they are slightly above vampires that glitter like diamonds). After saving his friend and leaving his family, Darren joins the cirque du freak with his “master” and they deal with the vampire politics.
As apparently an avid reader of young adult fiction that involves vampires, Greek gods, or young wizards, I started reading this series. I wasn’t actually a fan and stopped three books in. I was a bit confused by this film, because it seemed to roll all of these books together (I am assuming it used pieces of the entire series, but I can’t say for sure). This seemed a bit odd to me, because I would have thought they would want to stretch out the series to make as many movies as possible–especially when they have signed some pretty high-profile actors to the franchise. But perhaps they gauged their audience correctly, because I don’t know if I would watch a sequel to this.
As I am sure you can guess, I thought the movie was slightly below average. The actors were OK and the “look” of the film was fine, but I think the story was off. I made it through the entire hour and fifty minutes, though I was multitasking as it was on. This certainly must have caused me to miss some of the subtle nuances of the film. I am sure the spider symbolized the tedious balance between life and death. Or perhaps the mise-en-scene was the most brilliant of all young adult supernatural films. I guess I won’t ever know. I think I can live with that.
Netflix Queue: 475