Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, 1994.
Directed by Neil Jordan.
Starring Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Kirsten Dunst, Antonio Banderas, Stephen Rea and Christian Slater.
A vampire chronicles his eventful life to a journalist.
There is an inherent sex appeal that is often alluded to within vampire films, particularly within the earlier horror efforts like Dracula (1931) and its sequels and imitators. This sexiness emerged more explicitly during the 1980s, with films such as The Lost Boys (1987) and Near Dark (1987) making vampirism seem almost desirable. Although Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles provides a homoerotic undertone between Louis de Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt) and Lestat de Lioncourt (Tom Cruise), the film depicts vampires similarly to Nosferatu (1922) as desperate feral creatures. This never gets much sexier than Brad Pitt pouting, allowing the story to instead focus on the horror of the fanged creatures.
Told from the perspective of Louis, Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles opens in a modern-day San Francisco as Louis regales interviewer Daniel Malloy (Christian Slater) with the story of his life that spans two hundred years. Stricken with grief after the death of his wife and child in 1791, Louis has lost all sense of purpose. Enter the charming and dashing Lestat, who promises an alternative life and proceeds to turn Louis into a vampire. But Louis is appalled at how they must live as vampires, forced to feed off the blood of humans, and instead tries to survive on the blood of animals.
It is upon the discovery of twelve-year old Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) that Louis finds some purpose to life. With her mother deceased, Lestat turns Claudia into a vampire, with both himself and Louis acting as adopted parents teaching her their ways of living. Yet her capacity for cruelty is overlooked, and Claudia eventually drives an irreparable wedge between the family unit. Frustrated at her eternal life and child body, Claudia grows resentful of her dark gift and after attempting to kill Lestat she flees to Paris with Louis in search of fellow vampires.
Brad Pitt does a good job of conveying inner turmoil throughout the film, disgusted at the creature he has become and struggling to accept how he must now live his life. Tom Cruise, meanwhile, is most surprising as the care-free creature who has no qualms with dining on humans. He possesses a confidence that is rarely granted to mortals that translates well on screen. Kirsten Dunst is perhaps most impressive, a child actress tasked with depicting the frustration of an adult women. She excels whilst providing a fresh dynamic between Pitt and Cruise.
If Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles falters, it is with its largely aimless plot. There is a noticeable lack of focus, and Louis seems to be recalling a life that should be extraordinary but is ultimately tedious. There are notable set-pieces that provide entertainment, but they require a stronger story thread to link them that is sorely lacking. Louis is perhaps not the most compelling character to follow, moping at his damned existence instead of relishing the opportunities presented.
Although Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles provides an interesting portrayal of vampires, these creatures allow for more exciting exploration than what is offered here. The addictive nature of their feeding habits is merely alluded to, whilst their sexuality sorely underplayed - it didn't exactly need to be sexualised, but it could surely have been toyed with. Clocking in at just over two hours, it is a movie that entertains but rarely excites. The subject matter contained potential, but director Neil Jordan was hampered by Anne Rice's lacklustre screenplay, committing good characters to page but failing to give them a good story to sink their teeth into.
Flickering Myth Rating: Film *** / Movie ***