Today I watched Neil Jordan’s Interview with the Vampire (1994)
There is, of course, a reason that so many vampire stories exist, vampires are, despite the efforts of countless hack writers, pretty damn cool. Being so cool it is only natural that they become protagonists of a sort, dark, predatory antiheroes living tragic, immortal existences. Anne Rice has written numerous novels on the subject and naturally this is the film adaptation thereof that sees a vampire named Louis recounting his unlife to a modern reporter. He begins his tale as a colonial noble in the southern bayou who is turned into a creature of the night by the vampire Lestat. But Louis still clings to the preciousness of life and they bicker endlessly about killing their prey until one day Lestat sires another vampire, a young girl. Of course turning a child into an ageless immortal is kind of super messed up so you can be sure that a heck of a lot of drama ensues.
I really sensed a classist undercurrent with this film, I suppose it can be seen in many vampire works as they are often portrayed as privileged and noble in their predations. Here in particular we see slave owning southern white nobility of the colonial era preying on slaves and prostitutes. This is not the film to shed light on those themes and interpretations of the vampire mythos though, much like Jordan’s previous film, In the Company of Wolves, this is primarily a mood piece driven by imagery and personal melodrama.
As a character piece the film does work though, despite the distractions of the world around the action sometimes intruding. There is a concerted effort made to seperate the subjects from the world they inhabit actually, as the crux of their tragedy comes from the alienation of watching the world move on without them. That being said I don’t think this film’s star studded cast does it many favours as few of the performers seem able to truly inhabit their roles. Tom Cruise as Lestat especially stands out as poor casting to me as his general performance lacks the depth necessary for him to come off as anything more than a scenery chewing bad guy. But then there is a young Kirsten Dunst as the child vampire and she really brings a level of terror to the picture in just how disturbing her character is. So all in all I do really enjoy this film, it lacks some insight into it’s own setting and how the characters fit into it but it does offer some of the finest gothic tragedy in modern cinema. It is decadent and operatic in often extreme and jarring ways, but still has a heart and is effective at drawing the sympathy out of it’s protagonist. 3/5