I have never been interested in the Vampire world and have never read a single book by Anne Rice. I do watch True Blood, but Alan Ball is a genius and the series can hardly be described as a vampire show. Queen of the Damned, released in 2002 after Aaliyah's death, has been my only foray into the world of Anne Rice until now. Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles features an A-list cast with Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Antonio Banderas and Kirsten Dunst in her breakthrough role. I was unimpressed with the entire cast, except for Dunst, who showed maturity despite her young age. Unfortunately, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt seemed satisfied with creating caricatures and the film suffers. Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles began with Interview with the Vampire in 1976 and before the film adaptation was released in 1994 she had written three subsequent novels and had amassed a considerable amount of fans. Obviously Rice was worried that Warner Brothers would not be faithful to her novel and was apparently critical of the choice to cast Tom Cruise. The director, Neil Jordan, had just won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his 1992 film The Crying Game. Credit must be given to the director and the production staff for giving the film a great Gothic feel and an intense atmosphere throughout the film. However, Interview with the Vampire, relying too heavily on its miscast actors, suffers because the film fails to connect emotionally with its audience.
The film begins in modern-day San Francisco. Daniel Malloy (Christian Slater) is a reporter set to interview a man named Louis (Brad Pitt) who claims to be a vampire. He relates his story that begins in Louisiana in 1791. He was 24 and had just lost his wife during childbirth and longed for his own death. The vampire Lestat (Tom Cruise) gives him the chance to be reborn and turns him into a vampire. Louis has a terrible time with the idea of killing humans and prefers killing animals for their blood. The two vampires, bound together, move to New Orleans where Lestat turns the young Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) into a vampire daughter for them. She soon becomes angry when she realizes that she will never grow older and her anger is directed towards Lestat. Claudia has become a sadistic killer and tricks Lestat into drinking blood from the dead, killing him. Before Louis and Claudia are able to flee to Europe Lestat emerges from the swamp and Louis is forced to burn down the house to escape. It is now 1870 and they are living in Paris, but Louis has failed to find any other vampires in his quest to discover his vampiric origins. One night he encounters Armand (Antonio Banderas), who claims to be the oldest living vampire. Armand assures Louis that he has the answers. Santiago (Stephen Rea), a member of Armand's coven, warns Louis that he knows the truth about Lestat's murder and that it is forbidden for a vampire to kill one of its own. Louis' interactions with Armand eventually put Claudia's future in jeopardy and Santiago goes to great lengths to ensure that Louis suffers for his sins.
There were many times throughout Interview with the Vampire when Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt were very awkward on screen. A lot of this can be attributed to the screenplay, adapted by Anne Rice, which seemed stilted and was full of cliches. This was evident at the very beginning of the film and the dialogue only became more laborious. I am intrigued by the film's title, Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, with its subtitle giving the impression that the studio had been planning to produce Anne Rice's other novels. The film may have a 60% rating on RottenTomatoes, but the uninspired acting may have cost Interview with the Vampire a sequel. I had just turned eleven when the film was released and the film never entered my consciousness until I was at least sixteen. By then I was more interested in seeing Vampire in Brooklyn, Wes Craven's 1995 vampire film that starred Angela Bassett and Eddie Murphy. I never did get around to seeing it but I am sure my desire had something to do with my love of Tina Turner and Angela Bassett's role in What's Love Got to Do with It. I have spent a lot of time deriding the film for its terrible acting, but if you feel compelled to watch Interview with the Vampire you will at least be impressed by the cinematography.
My rating: 2 stars out of 4.