AMC Interview with The Vampire Review: A Dark Gift Beyond Our Wildest Dreams

The vampire genre is replete with icons dating back hundreds of years. They come in all shapes and sizes, pretty much in the same context, from brilliant YA protagonists to miserable, wobbly creatures. And while we’re not here to pick favorites or measure the unquantifiable, it would be hard to overstate just how important Anne Rice’s work is to this particular cultural phenomenon. Anne Rice’s vampires aren’t the first, nor the last, to enter the genre and become archetypes of their own, but it’s hard to overstate the staying power of creatures of the night like Lestat, Louis, and Armand, especially for horror fans. and gothic romance.

So there was understandably some trepidation on the air when AMC announced its plans to revisit Rice’s iconic 1976 novel Interview with the Vampire as a TV show. Interview, the novel, not only existed atop a pedestal for many fans of the genre, but the 1994 film adaptation (starring the utterly iconic Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt as Lestat and Louis, respectively) deeply entrenched the status. cult following almost immediately after its release. release. Why revisit something that was done so well the first time?

Fortunately, the show is not only aware of these questions and anxieties, but accepts them head-on and immediately. Episode 1 establishes a canon: Interview with the Vampire, the novel, took place in the 1970s. Tortured vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson) has already spilled his guts to disgruntled journalist Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian) several years ago. decades about his experience with his creator Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid) and now he wants to do it again, here in today 2022, to set the record straight on some things he wasn’t ready to delve into as a younger immortal. . This setting also makes room for some of Interview’s biggest changes to the source material, namely that Louis, who was so famously played by Brad Pitt in the ’90s, is now a black man.

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It would have been easy for the creators of Interview to simply change Louis’ race and leave him the way many other properties and adaptations have done in the past, but it also faces this new dynamic head-on. The context of Louis and Lestat’s relationship changes dramatically as the power dynamic includes not only immortal experience and wealth, but also race, and Interview never blinks or looks away from the ripples this creates in the narrative. This, of course, is aided by impressive performances from Anderson and Reid. While the novel and film seemingly use Louis as a point-of-view character to focus the narrative on Lestat and his antics, this new and updated one takes Louis as a fully realized character on his own, beginning long before he becomes known. give him the chance. Lestat’s Dark Gift and dive into his family life, his human ambitions, and his slow downward spiral as he succumbs to Lestat’s seduction.

And the seduction is very literal here. In addition to confronting the realities and complexities of the racial power dynamics at play, Interview never shies away from acknowledging what both the novels and the film often leave behind as subtext. There is absolutely no subtext to Lestat and Louis’ romance here. They are lovers, explicitly, and this is another avenue the show uses to reinforce and update these familiar characters. Lestat’s flamboyant pansexuality gives him even greater privilege to move in the world compared to Louis’s tense homosexuality, and the resulting conflicts frequently come to a head as the pair become increasingly intertwined.

It’s an incredible case study in an adaptation that updates both the context and content of a source material without changing the original themes, and plays, incredibly. Virtually every new idea Interview throws out in each episode absolutely works, thanks to Anderson and Reid’s chemistry and the framing device of Bogosian’s cynical, elderly Molloy, who refuses to get carried away by the mystery and chaos of the story. told of Louis. Bogosian seems to be channeling someone like the late great Anthony Bordain in his performance: fearless to the point of self-destruction, disgruntled yet compassionate, worldly wisdom cut between barbs of acerbic amusement.

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If there’s one thing that doesn’t work so well in the first half of the first season, it’s the show’s updated version of Claudia, the vampire girl who represents one of the biggest sticking points in the lives (deaths?) of Lestat and Louis. . In the novel, Claudia is 5 years old, and later, in the 1990s movie, 12-year-old Kirten Dunst plays her. Here, however, Claudia has been up to 14 years old, played by 19-year-old Bailey Bass. Bass’s performance is great, she absolutely sells the confusion and conflict of a teenager’s growing frustration and alienation, but she never has a style that sells the impact of her eternal youth, and the characters often treat her like she’s too much. much younger than he really looks. At one point, she telepathically hears a group of girls teasing her for looking like a girl who stole her mother’s jewelry on the street, but Bass looks just as mature and organized at the time as they do. The conflict and shock just never rise to the top and it feels like a few minor tweaks to make things feel less geared towards a teenage Claudia and more towards a teenage Claudia could have gone a long way.

As far as missteps go, though, this one is a minor one: while Claudia’s story may trip up while she’s on her own, it still works when she’s bouncing off both Lestat and Louis. As their relationship becomes explicitly romantic, Interview is provided with ample space to explore the trio without subtext or allusion: they are a dysfunctional family, spiraling out of control, rather than three immortals who are on and off friends and rivals with tension. unspecified or implied.

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Visually, Interview with the Vampire isn’t entirely divorced from the fabric of ’90s romantic horror from which it’s woven. The settings, 1900s New Orleans, are beautiful, but the visuals can be a bit cheesy at times, especially in the fight scenes or when someone uses their vampire magic. It’s done with a kind of self-awareness, though, that’s not entirely tongue-in-cheek, but certainly doesn’t try too hard for realism. The fighting, the bloodsucking, the hypnosis, the weird vampire eyes all have a thin layer of camp about them, which ultimately works to balance the tone. The Interview is certainly not a horror comedy, this isn’t a race for What We Do In The Shadows’ place in the horror pantheon by any means, but it lacks the grit or seriousness of something like The Walking Dead. There’s whimsy here, and the big flourishes are based on the fact that the visual effects sophistication might not be on the level of a blockbuster.

All told, the show is a smash hit on pretty much every level, with an astronomical amount of potential built into its stellar cast. His fearless adaptation and revamping of the source material provides enough gas in the tank to carry his characters through conflicts both new and familiar; all we have to do now is hope Season 1 lands and keeps the energy going well into the future.

AMC’s Interview with the Vampire premieres Sunday, October 2.

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