Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire has a long, important pop culture history, both within the literary and film world. Interview with The Vampire has been a favorite film of mine since I was a teenager. Just like so many others, Anne Rice was one of my first experiences with the supernatural realm of literature and erotica. Her work practically raised me. The announcement of the AMC TV series, allowing for longer screen time and exploration of The Vampire Chronicles themes, made me wholly excited. Interview with the Vampire is ambitious, lush, and gothic.
This series takes place 50 years after the original events of the 1994 film. However, its changes to the canon arrive in changing Louis (Jacob Anderson) from a plantation owner in the 18th century New Orleans to a Black, Gay man for the better. Anderson’s performance breathes life into a character so familiar to many queer (and goth) people like me whose first foray into the world of vampires comes from the homoerotic tension between Louis and Lestat (Sam Reid) and the pain and suffering that follows and chains them together. The first episode of over an hour long and delves head first into the experiences of Louis, reciting it to a now cynical reporter Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian).
It’s a world that is hurt by plagues and a world more accepting of gay men, and it’s fundamental to the relationship that Louis has with Daniel. The show engages in meta-text, knowing that they’ve both sat with one another and have recounted the story of Lestat, the manipulative vampire who stole life from Louis. But that story has an asterisk: it’s a brilliant, caring, and detailed exploration of the themes of race, queerness, and relationship power differentials.
Reid’s performance as the lustful, ominous, and manipulative vampire Lestat is as intense and perfect as Jacob Anderson’s. Their chemistry on screen is to die for, intense, and pointed. There’s so much tension, pain, allure, and sensuality explored between their blossoming relationship. As opposed to the underlying subtext that the 1994 film is dripped in, AMC’s Interview with the Vampire is exceptionally bold, and it’s beautiful to see. This show is gay and captures the suffering of being closeted, the shame of sexual deviancy, and the pleasure of freeing yourself from a mortal plane that causes you pain. The sex scene that occurs during the first episode is all about desire, inhibitions, freedom, and release. It’s fascinating to watch and offers depth to Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles that I never would have imagined I’d be able to see on screen.
These explorations are heavily tied to the historic backdrop of this story, both present and past. New Orleans is the grounds for Louis’s business ventures, where he experiences racism and inequality from his white peers. His family is deeply religious, casting his gayness as a deep secret that could cast him into hell. It springboards Louis’s drive to tell his story again after all this time. This version of Interview with the Vampire is not scared to delve into deep topics left out of previous Anne Rice adaptations. Louis wants to tell his story about coming to terms with his identity in a way that feels ready for the current era we’re in.
If its themes aren’t enough to convince you to watch, Alan Taylor’s direction in the first episode is immaculate and a feast for the eyes. It’s riddled with very lingering shots of 20th-century New Orleans showcasing a rich and luscious history with the set designs. Every piece of clothing, decoration and wall décor sucks viewers into the gothic tale of sorrow, life, and death. The sense of temporality within the first episode is anguished and inviting. Lestat can literally get into Louis’ head, and the framing and shots of these interactions convey the swelling of time. It frames their relationship as big, ethereal, physical, and spiritual.
Nothing on TV is as goth as Interview with the Vampire. I am awe-struck by its boldness, not expecting this series to honor the queer history laced within Anne Rice’s work in a post-Rice-World. Religious iconography, body horror, intense sex, conversations on identity, it’s all here to be explored, bitten into, and gnawed on.
AMC’s Interview with a Vampire will air on October 2nd, 2022 at 10 PM EST.