After the success of Interview with the Vampire series, the next adaptation of Anne Rice’s work is a bland follow up with minimal interesting characters, comically funny scenes and cheesy moments that are supposed to be magic.
Based on Rice’s best-selling trilogy, “Lives of the Mayfair Witches,” the 8-episode series focuses on an intuitive young neurosurgeon, Rowan (Alexandra Daddario), who discovers that she is the unlikely heir to a family of witches. As she grapples with her newfound powers, she must contend with a sinister presence that has haunted her family for generations.
Mayfair Witches fails to embrace its theme and it’s Southern Gothic roots. It is bland pacing that seems off and too slow to hold any interesting despite performances that could. A slow start for the sake of build-up can, in this reviewers opinion, be a blessing that creates dimensional characters while adding to the storytelling aspect and plot but Mayfair Witches misses the mark and is slow without any pay off. The horror is watered down and does not acclimatize to anything with no excitement, tension, or horror. Even the sex scenes are just a panting breathy quick scene that dulls and does not seduce like Interview with the Vampire. It is hard not to compare the two after how impressive Interview was in every aspect.
This is echoed in episode 5, where Rowan is trapped in the Mayfair house and is forced to relive the same morning repeatedly, which is apt given that relentless nothing is a great description for the series. There are moments which promise to have something more interesting and entertaining, such as Rowan hallucinating the dead and her birth mother, but that is also lacking and forgettable.
A supernatural, magical New Orleans was promised, but the series only uses the location once to explore the link of the Mayfair family. It just feels like the series could be more. Combined with the poor pacing and nothing driving the story forward, there are moments where episodes should have happened one or two episodes earlier, instead of watching the same thing on repeat. Countless times we see Rowan distressed, questioning herself and her surroundings, but there is no agency from her and this supposed threat- which does not feel threatening or urgent, so you just ride along like a lazy river.
While Daddario does her best, she can only do so much. Most of the cast have promise and is Lasher (Jack Huston) and Courtland Mayfair (Harry Hamiln). Huston can be charming at times, but because of the pacing and writing, lacks any chemistry and destructive powers or threat but delivers where he can. Hamlin delivers but is not given enough to work with, like the rest of the cast. The writing takes away any chemistry between the cast and what remains is taken from the sluggish tempo of the show. It was hard to pick an MVC with Rowan lacking any urgency and only showing glimmers of agency, but it decidedly goes to Lasher. He is the only character with some sort of aim and does his best to propel the narrative.
If you’re expecting something even a fraction as good as Interview with the Vampire, you will not get it but there are some moments that create interest to hang on for but not for an entire series.
The first 5 episodes were screened for review.
“Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches” will premiere on AMC and AMC+ on Sunday, January 8.