Early reviews of Cirque du Freak were comparing the film to the Twilight saga and suggesting that the current popularity for vampires was waning and would end when the genre is parodied (more on that later).
Actually it was in the recent Forbes article on vampire mania that the topic was raised. “But if vampire mania is indeed a cyclical phenomenon, some are predicting an imminent crash. The Vampire’s Assistant is campier than its predecessors, though you wouldn’t know it from the trailer, which focuses on angsty high school students.”
Now the Cirque du Freak series pre-dates the Twilight Saga and it’s geared more to boys than the female audience following Twilight. It’s possible the rise in popularity vampires are getting right now allowed Cirque du Freak to be produced and the reviewers think it owes thanks to Twilight as a result. But Cirque du Freak is a different, more magical series of tales.
How of course does this relate to gay vampires? Well this film in it’s simplest form tells a story of a conformist and an outcast. The main character Darren is just like every other teenager in his school except one. The entire school, as well as Darren’s family and the community, are your average khaki-wearing clean-cut conformists, typified in the cheery pastel shirts and khaki everyone wore, and the bright pleasant art direction. At one point Darren is told off by his parents and reminded he has a future as long as he goes to college, gets a job and has a family. Pushed by his rebel best-friend Steve (who is the only student wearing dark colors at school), Darren acts out which leads him to the Cirque and unleashes the chain of events that results in him becoming a vampire. Steve’s wish is to become a vampire, but it is Darren who takes his place, angering Steve further.
Darren finds himself a vampire, “but basically normal” among a community of freaks or outcasts. There in lies a connection. While in most western countries being gay is not consideration for being an outcast, it was recently so. The freaks are those that don’t fit inside the clean cookie cutter society. Once Darren becomes a vampire he begins a journey to acceptance, partly through resisting drinking blood (which clearly defines a vampire). Finally, the vampire that Darren has become is ultimately a good vampire, showing the viewer that not all vampires need be evil.
Sure Cirque du Freak is aimed at a teenage audience but that won’t stop me from indulging in this fantastic magical story. When I was Darren’s age I dreamed of becoming a vampire, and watching the film reminded me of those days. I am disappointed Darren lacks fangs, yet still as the movie poster says, “he’s 16 going on immortal”. And he’s also happy not being a conformist, even if that makes him a bit of a freak.