‘Interview With the Vampire’ review: AMC pumps fresh blood into Anne Rice’s story




CNN

A stark improvement on the 1994 film, “Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire” does more than just add the author’s name to the title, ambitiously updating the story, including a racial component and plenty of sex and gore. Desperate to replace “The Walking Dead,” AMC may have come up with a wild ride for a different kind of undead than zombies.

While the scheme mirrors Rice’s gothic novel, the series manages to simultaneously expand on them as if this were some kind of sequel and reinvent certain aspects, while raising the stakes for sexuality and violence to levels that occupy premium TV fare. In that sense, this seems to have produced at least as much considering the AMC+ as the AMC linear network.

Jacob Anderson (saying a lot more than Game of Thrones’ Gray Worm did, and making the most of it) stars as Louis de Pointe du Lac, telling his story to a now-older journalist (Eric Bogosian). whose dismissive and sarcastic attitude seems to be flirting with the fingers of memories.

Set in a pandemic-ravaged future that gives the story added resonance, red meat still exists in flashbacks to Louis’ past with Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid), the gentle vampire who made him; and later Claudia (Bailey Bass), a slightly older (again) spin on the baby vampire, whose perpetual state of adolescence captures the tragedy of her arc in a slightly different way.

Louis and Lestat connect in New Orleans in the early 1900s, a time and place where such interactions are possible but the racism of the time is overtly expressed and a constant component of the narrative.

Adapted from the first episodes directed by Rolin Jones (HBO’s “Perry Mason” reimagined) and Alan Taylor (“The Sopranos”), there’s a palpable tension in Anderson and Reid’s performances, with the former managing to be eager and scary and confused about the future. , melancholic and occasionally joyful in the past. As constructed, there is also the issue of what would motivate him to step out of the shadows to share his story.

The action, when it does happen, is fast, bloody and brutal. However, the series format gives this incarnation significant latitude as a character study, including the undying loneliness that would drive Lestat to find himself a friend, and Louis’ commitment to Claudia, with all the growing pains that come with it. The same goes for fleshing out supporting players, such as Louis’ mother (Rae Dawn Chong) and sister (Kalyne Coleman), rather than trotting out smaller roles for murder.

“Interview With the Vampire” will debut after “The Walking Dead” begins its final season; in terms of television, an old-fashioned sudden pass is intended to ensure additional sampling to kick off this seven-episode opening arc.

Unlike its ageless characters, “Vampire” may not be fit for the long haul, though AMC has already announced a second season, a vote of confidence based on its very promising start. It’s good news for both the audience and the network, for which – on the verge of saying goodbye to its biggest hit – the stakes couldn’t be higher.

“Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire” premieres October 2nd at 10pm ET on AMC and AMC+.