AMC+ brings Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire to life in a refreshing way that brings something familiar but new to vampires. A dreamy new take on Rice’s book that leaves the 1994 adaptation paling in comparison. The action is fast and brutal with grotesque moments that add to the depravity of being a creature of the night. It is more than that, being a character study and looking at the loneliness people feel and how, no matter what creature, be it human or vampire, companionship is longed for. A desire to be seen, accepted and prove your worth while either giving in to darkest desires or struggling to hold them down. Showrunner Rolin Jones sticks to the 1876 source novel but updates it and frames it for a narrative in our time while avoiding comparisons with the 1994 movie.
Every character, no matter the level of screentime, is given substance and their own desires that create an exceptional ensemble that supports Louis’ story, creates complexities, and deepens the world of this fresh adaptation. Relationships are complicated and none other than familial ones. Louis has much to deal with in his life and keeping his family afloat while rising to his own lofty ambitions, and he will not be stopped. The complicated nature of Louis de Pointe du Lac with his family opens the season and creates a good backdrop. There is his mother, Florence (Rae Dawn Chong); his god-fearing brother Paul (Steven Norfleet) who dislikes Louis running pleasure houses; and his soon-to-be wed sister Grace (Kalyne Coleman) who is friendly and warm to Louis.
One of the most appealing things about this new adaptation is the casting and the chemistry of the leads. Jacob Anderson leads Louis de Pointe du Lac in a skilled performance of determination, anger, and restraint accompanied by beautiful writing when combined with performance is poetry. Anderson is best known as Grey Worm from Game of Thrones, but he shines and highlights his talents as a performer and is given meaty, long monologues. Seeing his talent in Interview with the Vampire and comparing it to Game of Thrones shows what skillful writing and direction can do to talented actors. Sam Reid as Lestat de Lioncourt is enthralling and charming, making it so easy to fall under his spell and to see how Louis could fall so deeply, so fast. The chemistry between Louis and Lestat is riveting, romantic, and disarming, but on the other side to that, Lestat does not shy away from his barbaric side, and neither does the show. There are plenty of visceral treats for horror fans, but the chemistry and horror mixed is a masterclass. As Lestat, Reid brings an exceptional balance of charm and danger that other adaptations lacked, and Anderson as Louis is a stronger character with complexities and layers than previous incarnations. Eric Bogosian as Daniel Molloy has new levels to him that were lacking in other telling’s of Rice’s novel, and with a background of a pandemic and an illness, the situation for the interview makes itself known and is compelling. Anderson and Bogosian have a good dynamic and quips with each other that add to some of the humour and frustrations of the characters. “I’ve seen death over and over – it’s boring.” Pronounces Louis. “That’ll make a great blurb.” Molloy counters.
The characters have new layers to them and so does the background they are immersed in. This adaptation introduces a racial component and adds to the complexity of Louis and the many indignities he faces and his desire to prove himself. It adds to the story and gives Anderson more opportunities to shine in the role which he does at every turn. On top of that, there is plenty of gore and sex, with Louis announcing in a voiceover early on that he is gay. Something that the film relied on was the subtext. Lestat and Louis crave each other after their first meeting. Louis is not sure if it is the hatred of the man. It is both emasculation and admiration in equal measure. “I wanted to murder the man. I wanted to be the man. I left thinking of only him.” And you feel as obsessed and entranced as Louis does. In one scene, there is a threesome of the two men and Ms Lily that quickly changes to a time for the two men as they give in to each other sexually and then enjoy a “slow feed” as they start their journey of consuming all of each other. It is steamy and mesmerizing, expertly shot and performed, and shows the two of them so intimate. One thing that is so different from the adaptations is that the show does not shy away from those moments but uses them beautifully. There is a beautifully crafted scene that takes place after a very graphic and brutal murder where Lestat offers Louis to “swap the life of shame, swap it out for a dark gift and power that cannot be imagined” as they are at a church altar Lestat murders a priest. It is vulnerable, romantic, and tender, and no doubt symbolic of marriage. Louis agrees to be turned at the church altar and his heart, and Lestat’s beat as one. Every aspect of the scene is powerful, romantic, and beautiful as well as bloody. A complex mix that sets out the rest of the series.
As the first five episodes end, they are saved by the addition of Claudia (Bailey Bass), a young girl who Louis saves. She is older than the original story but still a child and her appearance breathes life into the later part of the series as she creates chaos, fun and complicates the relationship of Louis and Lestat. Bass gives a fun performance and is another example of excellent casting as she navigates the complicated life of a child turned into a bloodthirsty hunter, growing only mentally and unable to find a connection of her own.
AMCs adaptation has breathed new life into a story almost 50 years old, adding complexities and new narratives while honouring the original idea. It expands and reinvents the source material while upping the sexuality and violence, and highlights an electric chemistry with complexities that the characters deal with. Jacob Anderson masterfully shows Louis’s struggles as a Black man dealing with early 20th century racism, complicated family, an emotionally abusive and manipulative relationship with an older white man, being gay, and then becoming a vampire.
Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire is now available to stream on AMC+.
The first five episodes were provided for screening.