Anne Rice’s Interview With A Vampire is a Gothic Historical Drama based on the 1976 novel of the same name. The story begins in Dubai with vampire Louis De Pointe Du Lac telling the story of how he became a vampire to Journalist Daniel Malloy, 50 years after their original interview. Loius in his life as a human was an affluent Creole man who became a pimp in the New Orleans red light district to save his family from financial ruin after their plantation was plunged into debt. When Louis’s brother Paul commits suicide, his new friend Lestat Lioncourt gives him a dark gift and turns him into a vampire.
Lestat and Louis’s romantic relationship is built on a power imbalance that makes Lestat his superior in every way. Lestat is older, more powerful, white in the Jim Crow South, and does not struggle with his queer identity like Louis does. Louis in his fledging days cannot accept being perceived as less than by society while actually having the exceptional powers that come from being a vampire. Lestat and Louis’s relationship continues to be toxic and tumultuous because Lestat cannot understand Louis’s sensitivities. While Louis grapples with his second life where he still cannot self-actualize and embrace his identity as a black queer man who is also a vampire.
Compared to Past Adaptations
Compared to the original 1976 novel and the 1994 film adaptation of this movie .. the series only maintains the story in its most basic structure. A key difference is that Lestat and Louis are explicitly queer in the show… Whereas in the film it is suggested to the viewers who are willing to pull back the metaphors. Another key difference is that Louis is black and the complications that come from that. The other things that change in this series… Claudia is older, and Lestat is still a creep but significantly more witty. The series reflects the appetites of modern audiences who expect stories to be more diverse and honest.
The show is also a full-circle moment for the vampire genre. Vampires for a long time have been used to discuss the feelings of queer people under the drapery of mythical creatures. Classic examples include Dracula’s daughter and vampires on screen who usually struggle with disgust, self-hatred, amazing fashion… and eternal damnation. While we live in a time where we don’t need vampires to explore queer narratives. It still feels good to return the metaphor to the owner (somewhat).
Anne Rice’s Hand
I was disappointed when I learned about Anne Rice’s sloppy handling of race in her books. But I gave Frank Herbert a pass when I read the Dune Trilogy so… I guess I’ll be giving out a pass with a side-eye. In my research, I learned that Anne Rice hated the film adaptations of her books. She was very vocal about casting choices for Interview with a Vampire the film (Tom Cruise didn’t want to kiss a boy because cooties) and after the 2002 “Queen of the Damned” starring the late Aaliyah disappointed her, she said would never do another film adaptation. Fast forward to 2021, a show was shopping around networks. She was excited about the show originally but then she and her son Christopher Rice fell completely silent when the show moved from Hulu to AMC+. Leading fans to believe that she didn’t like the direction of the script before she passed away on December 11, 2021.
I really liked the show even when I think it’s a little cheesy. The script is beautiful and the dialogue based on the present day is hauntingly beautiful. The more comedic dialogue is contained in the flashbacks to early 20th-century New Orleans. Jacob Anderson’s performance of Louis was amazing in particular his scene in the church at the end of episode one was gut-wrenching and heartfelt. He also has amazing chemistry with all his castmates which is to be short super impressive. Sam Reid’s performance as Lestat makes him believely controlling and charming as the antihero. Reid’s portrayal sort of Lestat feels like Dexter Morgan and Niles Crain in one person. My major critique of the show is that certain parts can be a bit slow. It does, however, make you interested in reading the book series in a way the films just don’t. It is obvious that the series showrunners were not completely dismissive of the books when they big parts of the story its modern facelift. But it is a risk that is well worth it with audiences excited and myself gearing up for Season 2 of the show to return in 2024.