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Interview With the Vampire Season 1: A Review

"Interview With the Vampire" Season 1: A Review

The Series Adaptation Has a Modern Twist

Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles is one of the most unique and interesting cultural phenomenons to emerge from the horror genre. Framed as, essentially, a succession of autobiographies coloring a massive canvas, the series gives readers plenty of gossip about other characters thanks to the shifting perspectives of the various narrators. The first book in the series, a haunting gothic tale known as Interview with the Vampire, has — more than any other installment in the chronicles — etched itself into both literary and film history. Having been adapted (quite well) by Crying Game director Neil Jordan in the 1990s, AMC’s television reimagining had quite a few hurdles to clear. Despite the mixed reception of the film, it is undeniably iconic, with career high performances from megastars like Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise.

A Good Remix to a Familiar Song

Fortunately, the series’ developer and showrunner is Rolin Jones, whose last project also involved successfully updating an iconic franchise: HBO’s reboot of Perry Mason. And just like he did with that venerable character, he puts a unique spin on the proceedings. This is a reimagining, so don’t come in with too many preconceived notions about how this story should go. The time period has been updated, the relationship between main character Louis and the charmingly evil Lestat has been fleshed out, and each character simply feels more well rounded. Take Daniel, the journalist conducting the titular interview. Unlike the wide eyed, enraptured character from previous versions of the story, this guy is a hardened reporter, pressing Louis and asking some pretty for-the-throat (pun intended) questions.

The plot, as mentioned, has been reworked quite a bit. This time, the interview is in modern day, and the ongoing COVID pandemic is worked into the story. Years ago, a young journalist got the chance for the interview of a lifetime: to hear the life story of an immortal vampire. Without going into spoilers, things didn’t end well. Over the course of fifty years, Daniel (the journalist) has morphed into an elderly and well-respected reporter, having seen and done just about everything. But when the vampire, now living in Dubai, contacts him and offers him a do-over interview, Daniel jumps at the chance. Now, he’s ready to tackle the challenge of doing a hard-hitting interview with the most intimidating subject imaginable: a literal monster. Said monster’s life story involves love, loss, and murder in 1910 New Orleans with his two companions, Lestat and Claudia.

“Interview With the Vampire” Season 1: A Review

A Fang-tastic Cast

The cast had some big shoes to fill, but just about everybody works in their role. The standout has got to be Game of Thrones’s Jacob Anderson, who portrays Louis. This is a character who probably needed a hefty reworking. Instead of being a privileged man who has an unexplained chip on his shoulder, thus coming off as a whiner, they gave Louis much more depth. For starters, he has to deal with real problems, namely prejudice and racism. He’s a man of color in the early 20th century deep South, not exactly the most forward thinking place. He’s also, emphatically, a queer character. He even verbalizes this at one point, saying “There are a lot of things you could be in New Orleans, but an openly gay Black man was not one of them.”

As previously mentioned, the new tougher version of Daniel is a lot of fun, and Eric Bogosion sells even the fanciful stuff he’s given to work with. He doesn’t have much in the way of an arc, but he’s got a great screen presence nonetheless. Ditto for Bailee Bass, who isn’t given much to do as Claudia (honestly the show basically wraps up before her storyline gets good) but makes the character her own all the same.

Sam Reid as Lestat, right off the bat, wins some points for actually doing a French accent for his character. And while at first, it’s hard not to compare him to Cruise, it’s also almost impossible to take your eyes off him. He’s petty, he’s funny, he oscillates between calculating lunatic and charming dandy. In other words, he’s Lestat. The look of the series is also something that really took me by surprise. It’s hard to find a period drama that looks this expensive anywhere else but HBO. The whole show looks like a Southern version of Boardwalk Empire.

Interview With the Vampire Season 1

A Few Spiders in the Coffin

Now, from how much gushing there has been so far, one might get the impression that this series is a 100 percent home run. That’s not entirely the case, unfortunately. For as much as it gets right, sometimes it feels like the source material is more of a set of shackles than anything else. There are characters from the books in this show that don’t have anything to do and could have been cut entirely. It seems like they are here because it’s Interview with the Vampire, and fans expect them when they don’t add much more to this version of the story. One moment, in particular, a character is given such a melodramatic introduction that it’s downright laughable even though this person has no real reason to be here.

The biggest flaw and undoubtedly the thing that will turn some people off to this series is how it deals with the violent conflict between lovers Louis and Lestat. There are a lot of conversations over whether or not Lestat truly cares for Louis, and if the things he did to him were abuse (and it unambiguously was). It’s based on dark source material; it’s a show for adults, but this is such a sensitive subject, and the grace with which the writers handled updating the original story seems to have been abandoned. It feels as if it’s coming from a place of ignorance and for a show that deftly weaves in many other current themes — the clumsy handling of domestic abuse, an issue that affects so many people, sticks out like a sore thumb.

It’s doubly strange considering how well they handled the themes of racism and homophobia earlier in the series, with some of Louis’ scenes being some of the most powerful and resonant material in comparison to other horror shows. That’s the other side of the coin. While it’s hard to blame anyone for avoiding the series because of that, they would be missing out on a queer romance on a network TV show between actors with genuine chemistry, and probably the best modern horror show that doesn’t have Mike Flanagan or Ryan Murphy’s name in the credits. It’s not the best creation AMC has ever made, but there was more about it that worked than didn’t, and most fans will be  curious to see where it goes from here.

Interview With the Vampire (2022): Official AMC Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Dead Talk News Writer