The film industry is currently in what I like to call the era of reboots. From major media conglomerates to smaller production companies, it seems like every producer is revamping popular franchises, classic films and less than perfect adaptations. Of course, audiences eat this up — they can’t help but buy into the drug known as nostalgia.
If you can’t tell, I don't really appreciate this type of media. Generally, I see legacy sequels, reboots and remakes as lacking artistic merit. They exist to make money and not much else. When an auteur does get the chance to helm one of these projects, their creative flair is bogged down by studio interference and audience expectations.
Then along came AMC’s “Interview with the Vampire.”
Adapted from the Anne Rice novel of the same name, the series follows the immortal vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac — played by Jacob Anderson — as he’s being interviewed about his life by a journalist — played by Eric Bogosian — with whom he has a vague history. Louis’s story begins in 1910s New Orleans where he meets the mysterious, yet charismatic vampire Lestat de Lioncourt, played by Sam Reid. Louis recounts their tumultuous and complicated relationship through the years.
Before watching the show, I wondered why another adaptation was created. The 1994 film was by no means unsuccessful as it’s generally well-liked amongst both film enthusiasts and vampire lovers. Why try again? Why not tell a new story?
I soon knew the answer. The series is everything the film is not; it succeeds where the film fails. Expanding the story from a two-hour film into seven episodes — each an hour long — gave way to new, unforeseen possibilities. Despite having the same source material, the series tells a modernized story. This is what a reboot should be.
First of all, the casting director deserves an Emmy. They struck gold with the two leads. Anderson and Reid embody their characters with ease, making Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise look like amateurs. Anderson brings warmth, humanity and charm to Louis, while Reid portrays the violent, arrogant Lestat with overflowing charisma. I can’t picture anyone else in the roles.
Another significant change from both the novel and the film is the fact that Louis is mixed-race in the series. This wasn’t a thoughtless casting decision either — rather than ignore the historical context and implications of this, the show leans into it. In the interview, Louis details his experience as a Black man in America in the early twentieth century. The difference between how Louis and Lestat — a European white man — are treated is a source of conflict and tension between them.
Unlike the homoerotic undertones in the film, Louis and Lestat’s relationship is explicitly romantic. Early in the series, Louis struggles with his sexuality. It isn’t until Lestat promises him that he’ll be liberated from this oppression that Louis allows Lestat to turn him into a vampire. Even though this gives Louis newfound freedom and even a sense of pride, he remains an outsider on the edge of society.
The overall quality of the show is staggering. Despite the dark tone, it still has a sense of humor. The poetic writing captures the complexity of Louis and Lestat’s relationship. Each episode expands on the themes of freedom, oppression, identity, power and persevering love through a gothic, grisly lens.
“Interview with the Vampire” could’ve easily been a basic retelling of the same story, but it’s so much more than that. The show is modernized in all the right ways, never giving in to cheap tricks, goofy folklore or horror tropes. It’s a beautiful, horrific examination of everlasting life.
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