Based on Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles and written by herself, Interview With The Vampire tells the tale of a new vampire's journey from a young, reluctant killer to a fierce, mature vampire through a tell-all interview which the blood-sucker in question has kindly agreed to give.
Brad Pitt plays Louis, the suicidal man given a choice (kinda) by Tom Cruise's devilish vampire Lestat to either die or start a whole new life as an immortal. We're introduced to the all-important framing device, Louis giving the interview to Christian Slater's somewhat sceptical dude, before flashing back to hundreds of years prior when the former becomes a vampire. We then follow Louis' slow adjustment into his new life as he struggles to deal with the idea of killing people for blood, Lestat's desperate attempt to make him stay with him by making another vampire, a little girl this time, who then attempts to get rid of Lestat as she and Louis walk the streets in search of other vampires like them. A young Kirsten Dunst plays the little girl in question, Claudia, and gives a chilling, impressive performance as the most tragic character in this entire thing. This is essentially a coming-of-age story except it spans hundreds of years, several continents and two states of being. This is most definitely Louis' story but Lestat, of course, steals the show. Where Brad Pitt gives a candid, subtle performance which develops as the movie goes on, Tom Cruise's Lestat is vibrant, camp, cruel and thoroughly entertaining from start to finish. What is refreshing about Interview With The Vampire to this day is how respectful everyone involved seem to be to the source material. There's a genuine attempt to make not only a good vampire movie here but a great vampire movie and Cruise, Pitt, Dunst, Antonio Banderas and everyone else do their best to achieve just that.
Director Neil Jordan captures the Vampire Chronicles' macabre, gothic, sexy, darkly witty tone perfectly and brings us a stylish yet bleak film that's as black as night but not without its effortless charms. With the help of a thrilling theatrical score by Elliot Goldenthal and some fantastic visuals all around, Jordan makes what is still one the best looking vampire films out there. That world feels real despite how far-fetched it may seem on the outside, the character dynamics are basically very human but twisted just enough to make them feel almost completely alien: you understand these vampires yet you also understand their curse and why some of them just can't sit back and enjoy their immortality worry-free. The film demands that you look at these characters and their mad story through a very specific prism, a funhouse mirror where human emotions and desires are slanted to evoke themes such as homosexuality, relationships, incest, necrophilia, motherhood, fear of death, of aging, sex, murder, love etc. without tackling them obviously, head-on. All this stuff is implied and serves to build an image of this vampiric afterlife for us, an afterlife which is just as complex as life itself but in very different ways. This is an epic story but the film is never in a rush, instead letting us take in every bit of detail, every inch of that world. It's a shame that The Queen Of The Damned didn't receive the stellar movie treatment that Interview did and that the latter is a bit of a fluke in that it's unlikely that Rice's tales will ever be brought to life this well again in a very long time but I'm sure glad it exists.
The ultimate proof that when based on something substantial and intelligent, when taken seriously and when put together by people who know what they're doing, a vampire film can be a masterpiece. There'll always be nitpicks but as it stands, Interview With The Vampire still holds up beautifully as one of the best vampire movies ever made, if not the best.