Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (Neil Jordan, 1994)

Rating: 7 out of 10 (Enjoyable)

Admittedly, I did not like the warm color scheme for this adaptation of Anne Rice's novel (who also penned the screenplay). It quickly became apparent that this was a classical vampire story, so immediately I turned down the color on my TV. The undead do relish the dark, living coldly in shadow, so I loved the new murky look. Sapping the color intensified the creepy and dark quality of this film.

Lestat (Tom Cruise) has come to terms with his immortal curse as a vampire. He is demented and thirsty--never convinced that he has sucked enough blood from his victims. One of his victims--although Lestat would disagree--is Louis (Brad Pitt). He has been sired by Lestat and thrust into a new, dark and sunless existence. Louis is a sulky anomaly: A vampire with a conscience! He does not want to join Lestat's round-the-clock bloodsucking feast. No, Louis wants answers to life, some meaning to grasp onto about how he fits in the world as an undead shell. He misses the color of the ocean for he can now only view it at night and the gorgeous beauty of the sun that would scorch him where he sulks. Louis languishes in sorrow, and Lestat gives him no comfort in his torment.

Reborn by caprice, pity and madness is little Claudia (Kirsten Dunst, in an impressive performance). Lestat has broken the vampire code of conduct by siring a child. The undead brat doesn't understand why she will not age and her insatiable thirst for blood startles even Lestat (who dances with corpses from time to time) as Louis tries to play big brother with her, despite the girl's increasing depravity.

Among the undead is a very old vampire, Armand (Antonio Banderas) that is as puzzled about his immortal curse as Louis is, who mistakenly thinks Armand can help him understand it, and conflict ensues due to Santiago's (Stephen Rea) playfully dangerous presence. Louis finds Armand more appealing than Lestat, but Armand is no saint as he and his minions disrobe, humiliate and murder a terrified girl during a stage play in front of an aghast human crowd. Scenes like this are the best of the lot, but they do not prevent a misguided final scene.

The final scene abandons the dark and weary tone of the film, despite taking place after a bittersweet end to Louis' plight as his own evil continues to plague others. An uncharacteristic song begins to play that makes it more jarring and then the credits roll. This bothered me after being so moved by the pathos. Overall, this is still an effective tale about vampires and there is a great deal of lasting and classic imagery that even becomes disturbing at times due to the scary music, content (like people being lit on fire), and well done makeup design. These vampires look beautiful but they are brutal, one way or another.

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