The title of this movie is a very apt description of what it contains, although the contents of the interview are something not revealed in the title. Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles has an interview, and has a vampire, but the interview tells a story with flashbacks, and, as we find out, there are multiple vampires. A better title would be “A Story that a Vampire is Telling that Involves Multiple Vampires”. But that wouldn’t be a very good title now, would it? Nor is it very catchy, but it would be more accurate.
We open up with a reporter getting his things together while a man named Louis (Brad Pitt) is standing in the same room. Louis claims he is a vampire, and begins to tell his tale the last night he was still human. He had just lost his wife and child, and says that he no longer wished to live. A vampire named Lestat (Tom Cruise) comes along and grants his wish, in a manner of speaking. Louis becomes a vampire, although he has no idea how to behave like such a creature. That’s what Lestat’s primary role is in the film. He must teach Louis both the advantages and disadvantages of his “dark gift”, as well as try to make him act upon his new-found urge to drink blood.
See, Louis still likes human life, and doesn’t enjoy hunting, draining and then killing them. He’s a good guy who just got tired of living, so as a reward, he’s been given immortal life. The first portion of the film is like watching a class on how vampires would really act if we were in the late 1700’s — and one of them was really bad at it. The lengths that Louis goes to in order to avoid killing a human end up being fairly comical, and we end up finding him with a pile of dead rats around him more often than not.
Eventually, he gives into these instincts of his, and munches upon the neck of a little girl named Claudia (Kirsten Dunst). Because Lestat has been set up as the vampire without a conscience, he turns Claudia into a vampire so that Louis won’t leave. They end up becoming her adoptive parents, and go about their business for years to come.
Do you think I’ve told the entire story? Of course I haven’t. I’ve gotten you to just about the half-way point, which may be too far but I believe that the adoption of Claudia is when Interview with the Vamprie really gets going, so I feel no shame in explaining up until this point. I’ll say only that there’s a reason that there’s only one vampire conducting the interview and telling us the story, although I think a roundtable discussion might have been even more interesting.
Not a lot happens in the movie in terms of plot developments. When things do happen, they often feel unnecessary. Later on in the film, a cult comes out of nowhere, and it’s lead by Antonio Banderas. But there are no hints regarding it earlier in the film, and it just shows up to add some unneeded tension to a film that’s more of an atmosphere piece than anything else.
See, for most of the time this film was playing, I was enjoying it. I liked seeing Louis try to survive without eating humans, and I had fun watching Lestat try to force him to do it. Watching little Claudia become the most enthusiastic vampire of the group was an interesting development too, especially because it’s often shown that the life of a vampire isn’t all fun and games.
But then this cult just shows up out of nowhere and ruins it. It has a reason for appearing, which I won’t reveal, but their reason was that only kind of made sense, and also one not hinted about earlier in the film. It would have been easier to include a line or two in order to make us think about this, but no, this doesn’t happen. Part of the blame has to go to Anne Rice, who wrote then novel that this film is based on, but adding those two lines wouldn’t have deviated from the book too much, would it have?
The atmosphere and tone of Interview with the Vampire is what makes it as enjoyable as it ends up being. We get the sadness that is ever-present, and we get to see the lives of these vampires, and how they operate. They don’t get to make friends, they have to kill multiple humans a week, and it doesn’t look like a lot of fun. And this comes across from both the actors and also the Gothic visuals that dominate the picture.
Not a lot happens in the film, but I’ll argue that you don’t actually need much to happen in this kind of film. You can count the number of major events that occur on one hand, and that’s all you really need. In fact, the entire cult segment could have been skipped over, and the film would have been better for it. This is a film about three characters and watching how they live their lives. Nothing more need be added, even if some tension is artificially added later on, just for the sake of feeling the need to keep the audience interested — something I already was.
Interview with the Vampire is a good movie, but fails to be great because it attempts to include elements that have little connection to the plot, and end up being more of a distraction than an improvement. It has good actors and a great atmosphere, both of which allow us to experience the sorrows that come with being transformed into a vampire. Romanticized? Maybe. But it’s still transfixing for the majority of its runtime.