[Series Review] INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE

I don’t know about you, but I worship at the altar of vampires. Be they sparkly or possessing heavily scrunched-up faces ala the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” vampires are the creatures that continue to fascinate and perplex us. Over the past century or so, vampires have been re-cast in a sexier light. Brooding, mysterious, and sensual, we can’t help but be drawn to them for another reason entirely. And, when Anne Rice released the novel “Interview With The Vampire,” no one could guess the hold it would have on us all.

Then came the 1994 film starring Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, and Kirsten Dunst. For us millennials and younger, these three came to define the characters of Louis, Lestat, and Claudia respectively. It’s the memory of their collective performances that held on before pouring myself into AMC’s reimagining of the vampiric tale. Does the reimagining do the novel justice? In feeling, in characterization, and in tone, undoubtedly yes.

There are some mental adjustments to be made. Again, these are not quite the characters we know whether via book or on screen. It is clear showrunner, Rolin Jones, working in tandem with the late Anne Rice and her son, Christopher Rice, has made sure to encapsulate everything fans need in an IWTV adaptation. The only detriment to some is the new series might seem too slow, with not enough forward movement. But it is an INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE. It takes time to get to the action.

What happens?

[Series Review] INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE
Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/AMC
INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE put simply focuses on an interview with a vampire. Louis de Point du Lac (Jacob Anderson) invites investigative journalist and reporter, Daniel Malloy (Eric Bogosian) to his private residence for an exclusive interview with a vampire. The changes from both the original Anne Rice novel and the ’94 film are apparent here. This is not the first time Malloy has interviewed the vampire. A familiar audience may think they know the story of Louis, but this we’re wrong as is Malloy. Louis aims to set the record straight with this second round of interviews.

We’re catapulted back in time at the start of Louis’ story, straight back to 1910, another change from the book. However, a smart change as the early 1900s was a time of rapid social, political, and fashion-related changes. That along with Louis’s race. As a Creole man, there’s an added depth to the character and, as we’ll see later in the series, the interracial relationship between Louis and Lestat. It’s in these explorations of the intersectional nuances that are a real treat and highlight, and – arguably – elevate the series for me from the rather good ’94 film.

Louis is a business owner and the patriarch of his family, with his eyes set on expansion, respect, and stability despite the odds being against him. When he meets Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid), an affluent man newly arrived from France, his life changes forever.

INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE – Cast of Characters

Photo Credit: Alfonso Bresciani/AMC

Because INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE is so heavily tied to its characters, we need to discuss them. Jacob Anderson’s Louis is perfection. His depiction is full of layers and nuances. Heavy lifting is done here by him as he must create different variations of Louis over the course of time. As a human, he’s hotheaded, sensitive, and trying to survive in a world that’d rather see him dead as both a Creole man as well as a homosexual. A century after being turned, Louis is calm, distant, and meditative Anderson handles these levels with ease and proves that there is so much more he can bring to the table post-Game of Thrones.

As Lestat, Sam Reid will make people pause. I’ll admit that I couldn’t help comparing his performance to Tom Cruise’s. Reid takes a more subtle approach. It is in his subtleties and the quiet stillness that we really see the brat prince as well as the monster hiding within. But, as INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE progresses, Reid builds on his take on Lestat as time passes. Be patient, fans. You’ll appreciate what he has to provide.

Claudia is aged up slightly in this iteration but, frozen at the cusp of womanhood, her story is still remarkably tragic. Bailey Bass handles the confusion, the trauma, and the rage demanded of her. If there’s anything to complain about, her accent feels quite forced and unnatural in this. At times, it can be distracting.

All in the details

[Series Review] INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE
Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/AMC
A large part of the world-building in this iteration of INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE succeeds in part due to the meticulous care taken by the below-the-line departments. From the set design to the costumes to the props, everything is completely and utterly immaculate in conception and execution. There’s an extra nod that needs to be given to costume designer Carol Cutshall due to the time period in which the past portion of the series is placed in.

While the series has shifted Louis’s earlier beginnings from the late 1700s up to the early 1900s, this time period marks extraordinary shifts in fashion. As we transition from the Edwardian era into the roaring 20s to the Great Depression, the subtle and not-so-subtle shifts in design (more so for the women than the men) are tackled quite well here. It’s a natural way to indicate to the viewer the progression of time in a series where our main characters do not age.

That’s not to say that the modern era in which Louis is being interviewed again by Daniel Malloy is no slouch in the visual department either. The production design of Louis’s hideaway from the outside world, as well as the set decoration by Selina van den Brink, is immaculate. It clues us into his headspace. Minimalist in design, yet spacious, this is a man with funds beyond our comprehension who does not require earthly possessions. The color palette is also cold, indicating an aloofness in our more mature Louis.

Building the layers

Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/AMC

In the first five episodes, it’s clear that the first season luxuriates in building the relationship dynamic between Lestat and Louis. This adaptation of INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE carries nuance, building the layers and highlighting the complicated nature of all characters. This was something that seemed missing from the 1994 version, likely due to time constraints. In a series format, we get to intimately know the characters, their love, their hate, and their gradual self-awakening.

For fans ready with pitchforks, let me say that I too was ready to attack. My strongest memory of Anne Rice’s popular novel was of the film. Tom Cruise’s Lestat lives rent-free still to this day. It took time to separate my gut reactions based on what I held onto so strongly but stepping back and letting the series sink in allowed time to properly digest. To see the beauty it holds and how INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE nails the feeling and the characters in a way that hadn’t yet been done justice.

Deliciously queer, campy, yet full of heart and complexity, INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE is a must-add for vampire and Anne Rice fans. The series slowly builds as it sets the player pieces in place but, with a second season approved, there is time to sink into the atmosphere and story that the team has brought back to such vivid life before our eyes.

INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE premieres October 2nd on AMC and AMC+.

Sarah Musnicky
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