Movie Review: Cirque du Freak (John C. Reilly, Ken Wattanabe, Salma Hayek) 2009

Posted: November 18, 2012 in Drama


Darren Shan (Chris Massoglla) is a model teen, slightly popular in school, getting good grades, liked by his parents.  But Darren is vulnerable to peer pressure from his friend Steve (Josh Hutcherson) Steve a bit of a rebel, he likes to cut class, engage in petty vandalism and most of all, he has an obsession with vampires.  Darren has his own obsession, with spiders.  Darren and Steve sneak out to a freak show called Cirque du Freak, and they see the whole crew of freaks.  Mr. Tall (Watanabe) the supersized ringleader, Madame Truska, (Hayek) the bearded lady, and the biggest act in the freakshow, Larten Crepsley and his trained spider Madame Octo.  Steve is sure Crepsley is a vampire, Darren doesn’t care about that, he loves the spider and steals it.  Madame Octo runs amok in Darren’s school and bites Steve.

Steve lapses into a coma, and Crepsley performs some kind of a spell to get the spider poison out of Steve, but to perform the spell, he has to turn Darren into a half a vampire, he’s still human but he has a craving for blood.  Prior to “blooding” Darren, Crepslry turned down turning Steve into a vampire, because, he said Steve had “bad blood.”  A bitter and downcast Steve meets Mr. Tiny (Michael Cervais) Tiny wants nothing more than a war between the vampires, those who feed but don’t kill their victims, and the vampanese, those vampires who kill human beings.  While Darren is making friends at the freakshhow, including Rebecca the Monkey Girl (Jessica Carlson) Tiny turns Steve into a vampanese and tells Steve that Crepsley turned Darren into a vampire.  What happens when the jealous Steve meets his former best friend Darren?

This is a good movie, primarily because of the adults in the movie.  John C Reilly is excellent in this movie, he is both humorous and full of evil portent.. This is clearly a more complex role than his broadly comedic roles and frankly silly roles in Talladega Nights and  The Dewey Cox Story.  He plays the role of Crepsley with subtle humor, but with a certain degree of menace as well.  Salma Hayek is both serious and comedic.  She is not exactly playing Freda Cahlo here, nor is she playing one of the Bandidas. Ken Wattanabe adds some gravitas to his role.  It brings the fun of the circus with the edginess of a vampire movie.  The relationship between Darren and  Crepsley is paternal and mentoring at the same time.  The budding relationship between Rebecca and Darren is sweet.  Hutcherson is annoying as Steve, and Massogla is wooden as Darren, and these are once again bloodless vampires, but this movie is a lot edgier than Twilight.  But then again, the Brady Bunch movie is edgier than Twilight.

Cirque du Freak.  Pretty freakin’ good.


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