Trailers for movies are sometimes misleading. Sometimes they give us exactly what we want and sometimes they convince us that a movie is going to be something that it is not. Cirque du Freak is one of the latter type of trailers.
In the trailer for Cirque we are promised laughs and a unique vision involving vampires and freaks. While we do get the vampires and the freaks we really don't get anything more than that.
The movie stars Chris Massoglia as Darren, a do-gooder kid who always gets good grades and stays out of trouble. He and his friend Steve (Josh Hutcherson) find out about a thing called Cirque du Freak and decide to check it out. The event takes place in an old abandoned theater and the freaks are on full display. We get a snake boy, a wolf man, a breaded lady, a tall man, and a host of other freaks. This is the only time in the movie where the freaks are on full display, showing what they can do.
The main attraction at the Cirque du Freak is Crepsley (a terrible John C. Riley) who carries around a spider and is a vampire. Darren is fascinated by spiders, so after the show he goes and steals Crepsley's spider. This leads to a terrible scene where the spider gets loose in the school and bites Steve. Darren goes to find Crepsley and is offered the chance to become a vampire in exchange for saving his friend's life. He accepts and his friend's life is spared.
The movie by this time is half over and we only get a glimpse of what the trailer has to promised us. Also by this time I was bored to tears because I didn't care what was going on. None of the characters are given any sort of development and we are left asking more questions than we are given answers.
The lead character has strange lisp and reminded me of Telly from the movie Kids. He is a terrible actor who gives one of the film's many bad performances. Every performance in this movie is bad, as if no one believes in this material.
The direction, by Paul Weitz, is lazy and uninteresting. It seems that Weitz just set the camera up and let the actors "act", hoping to make the movie in the editing room. Scenes go on for far to long and are so poorly shot that it is hard to tell what is going on.
Cirque du Freak is based a popular series of books. I have not read the book and I'm not sure that I want to, based on this movie. It is hard to believe that a cast that includes John C. Riley and Salma Hayek could make a movie this bad, but actors need to eat and these types of movies keep food on their tables.
The Picture: Preserving the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the picture is good. The movie is very dark, but that is the way the film was shot.
The Sound: The 5.1 track is good, handling the film's many action scenes with ease.
The Goodies: Freak flopped at the box office so I was not expecting a lot of bonus material. What we do get is instantly forgettable.
-Deleted Scenes (10 min, 4x3 widescreen) We get 20 scenes here and each one doesn't last very long. A lot of scene extensions. Nothing here would have made the movie any better.
-Guide to Becoming a Vampire (20 min 16x9) This a pretty standard making-of. We get a very brief history about the books and then the standard talking head interviews. Not very interesting.
-Tour du Freak (18 min 16x9) This featurette seems like it was made as a promotional featurette to sell the movie to exhibitors. We get a visit to the main set and again we get the talking heads. This is mildly interesting.
Overall: Dealing with a bad script, terrible acting, and lazy direction Cirque du Freak has no chance of being remembered five years from now. Given the poor reception at the box office, I doubt that we are going to get another one.