Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Halloween 2018 #10: Interview With The Vampire ***1/2 (1994)

A highlight of 1990s mainstream horror, Interview With The Vampire continues to hold a certain sway, a prescient film for its innovative use of star power and blood lust. Almost 25 years old, Interview an unrelentingly dark film with lots of feeding, betrayal, and transfer of blood. At the same time it's lush and hypnotic. The ambiguous sexuality and subversion of the family drama add a layer of social commentary very much in tune with the 1990s zeitgeist of reality and identity bending cinema.

Based on the bestselling Anne Rice novel, the story begins in the present day with Louis (Brad Pitt) telling his life story of being a vampire to a reporter played by Christian Slater, replacing River Phoenix after his untimely death. Louis became a vampire in 1791, a grieving plantation owner outside of New Orleans. He meets Lestat (Tom Cruise), a rake who can seduce anyone before taking their blood. He turns Louis into a vampire and the two become companions for many decades, even adopting a young girl Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) into their fold. 

Looking at Cruise's filmography, it's about the only instance when he's played a villain, although he would go against type in Magnolia and Collateral, and Lestat is a pan-sexual character, a part of him that's only suggested in the performance. Pitt also proves himself equal to Cruise, even though Louis is a less interesting character. When Lestat exits the story for a time, the film slows down when the scene shifts to Paris. While the nature of their relationship is never explicitly spelled, they do live together as a couple and raise a child. 

Interview broke new ground in that it explored the daily life of being a vampire: preying upon new victims, intellectual pursuits, and finding purpose. Lestat seems to love every minute of it, while Louis is melancholy and brooding. These are not the more genial bloodsuckers who would appear in the 2000s, they are viscous and unrepentant. 

Anne Rice's story and Neil Jordan's direction place Interview With The Vampire at the top of the vampire genre. Never quite straight up horror, nor a jump scare blockbuster, nevertheless a compelling vision that added to the vampire mythos on the big screen. 


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