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Monday, October 3, 2022

‘Interview with the Vampire’ Review – TV Series Draws Fresh Blood With a New Take on Anne Rice’s Saga

Editor’s Note: This Interview with the Vampire review covers only the show’s premiere episode.

AMC’s playful look at the gothic, gory world of the infamous vampire Lestat hits a healthy artery that feels like it can keep its pulse beating for years.

“There’s a simple answer to that, but I don’t believe that I want to give simple answers. I want to tell the real story.” 

It’s only a few minutes into Interview with the Vampire that a character prompts another for the real story. Vampires are a supernatural creature that have fueled stories for centuries, but many modern examinations of the undead attempt to present the real story and finally uncover a level of truth and realism that’s previously been absent in the genre. In most cases, this “realism” comes across as hackneyed, or even worse, increasingly derivative of past ideas until it’s a Russian nesting doll of diminishing returns. 

Right from the start, Interview with the Vampire feels fresh and unpredictable, which already gives it a distinct advantage over contemporary vampire programs like Vampire Academy, Reginald the Vampire, First Kill, or even What We Do in the Shadows. Of course, that’s largely a testament to Anne Rice‘s rich world that has had decades to ruminate and improve upon itself, but “In Throes of Increasing Wonder…” understands that it has a a lot to prove here and it makes sure that this update on Interview with the Vampire is not just generic vampire material that coasts on comfortable themes and iconography. This premiere episode is just over 65 minutes long and it doesn’t abuse this extra time, nor does it feel laborious in its construction. It has to do the heavy lifting of handling copious introductions, between two timelines no less, but it doesn’t feel like a pilot that’s bogged down in exposition and can’t show off its true colors. 

Furthermore, Interview with the Vampire also has a lot to prove now that AMC has lost Better Call Saul and The Walking Dead might, finally, be approaching some state of final decomposition. It cannot be underestimated how much they need this show to be a hit and the program’s early two-season renewal is good business as much as it’s a gesture of faith in the series. That being said, Interview with the Vampire actually feels like a quality program that could carry the mantle of The Walking Dead. It’s even a show that could pull off a decade-plus of seasons, or multiple spin-offs, since it has hundreds of years to pull from in its fascinating exploration of Louis and Lestat’s growth.

sam reid lestat amc

Photo Credit: Alfonso Bresciani/AMC

So many vampire series focus on the visceral nature and overflowing sexuality that consumes vampires, which is still on display here, but what’s often overlooked in these vampire projects is the feeling of eternity that constricts these creatures. This endlessness is the whole point of Interview with the Vampire and so it’s satisfying to see that it’s a palpable component that’s felt right from the start of the series. “In Throes of Increasing Wonder…” carries the pomp and circumstance of what a story of this grandiose nature necessitates. Purple narration that’s pulled right out of Rice’s books accompanies gorgeous swooping shots of skylines across the world, throughout time, that are powerful and inspirational, rather than condescending. Alan Taylor’s slick directorial tricks often help the viewer feel as invincible, and fragile, as Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson) and Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid) do at the various points of their lengthy lives in which “In Throes of Increasing Wonder…” checks in.

Lestat and Louis are squarely the focus of this premiere, but Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian) is forced to reckon with his own mortality after his dwindling health triggers his reunion with this undead orator. Building upon this level of vulnerability, “In Throes of Increasing Wonder…” also leans into health concerns through the pandemic, but it actually incorporates this modern real-life disaster in a natural manner that’s often lacking in recent series that attempt to do as much. What makes it effective in Interview with the Vampire is that it contextualizes this pandemic as business as usual for Louis. It’s just one, of many, disasters that he’s lived through and will continue to live through. A vampire series of this nature gets the opportunity to flex an eerie, nihilistic perspective when COVID-19 is just one blip that these eternal creatures have seen alongside the Black Plague, Spanish Flu, or anything else.

Photo Credit: Alfonso Bresciani/AMC

The start of the series covers multiple stretches of history, but it uses the early 1900s in New Orleans to explore some incendiary turning points for Louis. The series uses these recurring parables to condemn, but also celebrate, humanity as well as reflect the repetitive cycle that it heads down, which makes it all pointless in the process. All of these societal observations and critiques are present in Rice’s original writings, but Interview with the Vampire effectively develops these themes through intuitive changes to race, gender, and sexuality in this version of the text. A lot of the discussions with this series will inevitably come down to Sam Reid’s performance as Lestat and compare him to the previous actors who have portrayed the timeless vampire. Reid makes sure that his take on Lestat is appropriately austere, but there’s a festering anger to the character that’s always fighting to break out of its careful package.

“In Throes of Increasing Wonder…” lives up to its title and it’s a series premiere that feels epic, but also doesn’t bite off more than it can chew. It shows off enough of this world and its characters to feel substantial, yet also creates anticipation for what’s to come and the rest of Lestat’s lengthy life. Interview with the Vampire covers a lot of ground, but it’s important to address a central accusation that Daniel poses to Louis early on in the episode–”Maybe your story wasn’t worth telling.” Despite Louis’ confidence, he still spends the bulk of his time in “In Throes of Increasing Wonder…” attempting to prove the contrary. Interview with the Vampire is ultimately taxed with the same challenge.

In an over-bloated genre, vampire series need to justify themselves rather than purely exist off of reputation alone. It’s still too early to predict the quality of its far-off future, but if the series premiere is any indication, Interview with the Vampire absolutely proves that this is, in fact, a story that’s worth telling.

‘Interview with the Vampire’ debuted October 2nd at 10pm (ET) on AMC.

The post ‘Interview with the Vampire’ Review – TV Series Draws Fresh Blood With a New Take on Anne Rice’s Saga appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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