Forget everyone you know about Interview with The Vampire. The new AMC series brings to life a new interpretation of the Anne Rice classic. The new series brings back the luster and deviance to the name vampire, without all of the glitter.
In the series premiere, “In Throes of Increasing Wonder,” a distinguished reporter receives an invitation to revisit an old story from a man who claims to be a vampire. This episode is a long one.
INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE
Daniel Malloy (Eric Bogosian) is an investigative journalist, around the age of 55 … maybe 60. He’s grown quite popular and has written a book or two. His latest venture is to teach young journalists how to get their story in the fast-paced digital world of today. One day, Daniel receives a package of tapes and a letter from Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson).
The first tape was recorded in 1973 and it’s with a man who claims to be a vampire. In the letter, Louis says it’s been 49 years since their first meeting. He would like to resume their project and finish his story. Daniel drops everything and goes to Dubai in the middle of a pandemic.
The two men play catch up. They met one night in a hotel room in San Francisco. Since then Louis has created an empire for himself while maintaining his anonymity. And Daniel is just older and more refined. And he has Parkinson disease, a fact that Louis found out with ease. The last time they met did not end well. Daniel was rude to Louis, so Louis bit him. So tensions are quite high between the two.
Daniel wonders why Louis is ready to tell his story again. The first interview was full of plot holes. Louis wants a do-over to fill in the holes and give Daniel a complete story. Daniel sets his terms, but they deviate from the signed agreement he made before meeting Louis. And he wants to talk to Louis alone. Louis sends his assistant away and they begin.
NEW ORLEANS, 1910
Louis starts his story in New Orleans in the year 1910, five years after his father passed. He was the oldest son and the executor of his father’s trust. Racism is still prevalent in the country. There was only one place a man of color could own his own business. The red light district. Louis managed desires that came in many forms. He owned eight brothels on Liberty Street and catered to the reprehensible.
Louis comes from a good family with a god-fearing brother, Paul (Steven G. Norfleet). Paul often visits Louis’ places of business to save the souls of the downtrodden. One night Louis had to pull a knife on Paul to make him go home. You can’t look weak on Liberty because you never knew who was watching. And that night, someone was definitely watching.
Louis lives with his mother Florence (Rae Dawn Chong), his sister Grace (Kalyne Coleman) and Paul. They live in a good place, but they are oblivious to how they are able to afford their home. They are a month away from Grace’s wedding and Paul is certain that Grace will turn into a witch after she marries.
Louis loves Paul more than anything. He indulges his brother by taking him to church for confession. Even though Paul is the purest of them all. And he gives sizable donations to the church to keep up appearances. He does the same at night by visiting a particular woman. Her name was Lily (Najah Bradley). Lily worked for the competition who only catered to white men. Some of those white men were familiar with Louis though and treated him in a friendly manner. Including Lily’s latest suitor, Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid).
Lestat is from France and has some old ideas about race. He accidentally insults Louis the moment they meet. Lestat says he knows who Louis is because Louis is the reason he purchased a home in the French Quarter. He says when he arrived in the New World, he came upon a place full of life and women of many colors. That is where he saw a man pull a knife on his brother. And then he knew he was home.
Louis hates watching Lestat kiss and touch Lily. And Lily shuttered at Lestat’s touch. But Lestat kept his eyes fixed on Louis as he talked. Louis couldn’t turn from his gaze. He felt immobilized. Like Lestat was forcing Louis to look at him.
Lestat planned to make a new life for himself in St. Louis. It was his destiny. But now he knows the Saint wasn’t a city but a handsome man, with an agreeable disposition. They are destined to be good friends. The two men stare at each other while putting money on the table, to pay for Lily’s company. Louis says he hated Lestat and wanted to be him at the same time. He went there for Lily, but left only thinking of Lestat.
Some strange things start happening. A fever breaks out in the city. All of the victims have small wounds on the body. When they die, there is no blood in their body. Louis’ regulars talk about the outbreak over a game of cards. Louis joins them, the only man of color at the table. One of the men, Anderson offers Louis a business proposition to start a new brothel. They offer him 10%, but that’s really low for Louis. Anderson asks for Lestat’s opinion. While he gives his answer to the men at the table, he talks to Louis in his mind.
Lestat stops time and says Louis is worth more than 10%. He asks Louis if he suffers these indignities for a larger purpose? There is great opportunity in the city, but to seize it, you have to protect yourself from the wolves. This intrigued Lestat and they started spending more time together.
Lestat spent an insane amount of money in New Orleans to fit into the New World. Louis spent a lot of nights with Lestat, so he never caught on that he was a vampire. He even found himself confiding in Lestat about his troubles. He only ever confided in Paul. Louis had no clue about Lestat’s life. And he had no clue that he was being hunted.
Louis gave Grace a trip around the world as a wedding gift. That same night Lestat joined the family for dinner. The trip was the talk of the evening. Everyone was happy for Grace and her future husband, except for Paul. He was antagonized by Lestat’s presence and began asking questions.
Paul asks if Lestat knows Christ. Lestat says he wanted to become a priest, just like Paul. His father pulled him out of the monastery and caged him. He starved and beat Lestat until Lestat no longer believed in God. Lestat gets angry and yells that there is an ocean between him and Christ. Louis stops Lestat, telling him not to talk to Paul that way. Lestat apologizes to Louis’ family and they go on with their evening.
Later Lestat asks about Paul and his obsession with God. Louis says Paul thinks God speaks to him through birds in his head. Lestat admires that Paul has no shame about his love of God. Whereas Louis has shame about how he makes his money. Louis isn’t ashamed, but feels no one needs to know what he does. The work he does isn’t easy. There are broken souls all around him.
THE SEDUCTION OF LOUIS DE POINT DU LAC
Lestat invites Louis to his home for a nightcap, but Louis refuses. Lestat is persistent and says he got Louis a gift. He got him a flower. Lily is upstairs waiting for them. Lestat had no intention of just watching. He joins in and makes a move on Louis. Louis pushes him off and focuses on Lily. Lestat uses his power to put Lily to sleep in the middle of their lovemaking. Louis can’t help himself and gives in to Lestat’s advances.
Louis explains to Daniel that he did not consider himself a gay man at the time. Society would not allow him to act on such desires, though he had discrete experiences. Now he fully embraces his sexuality. Louis starts asking Daniel about his sexuality, since they met a gay bar back in ’73. Daniel doesn’t want to talk about it, so Louis continues his story.
Louis says the experience with Lestat was the best he ever had. He felt things with Lestat he had never felt before. He felt emotional close to Lestat. It scared him. So he vowed never to return to Lestat after that night. There was no room for that kind of relationship. Louis decided to go back to the way things were before he met Lestat.
Grace’s wedding day comes. Everyone but Paul cheers for the happy couple. At the reception, Grace asks her brothers to dance for her since their father is not with them. Louis and Paul used to tap dance for pennies. They called themselves the ABCDEFGs – Alter Boys Come Dancing Everyday For God. The brothers are reluctant, but eventually give in to their sister. The performance is one of the highlights of the night. Both brothers look like they are having fun. And the crowd loves them, throwing money at their feet.
After the reception, Louis and Paul go to the roof of the house to watch the sun rise.. They reminisce about growing up. Paul tells Louis that he has to get married next to the girl he was dancing with earlier. Then he asked if Louis is still doing business with Lestat. Louis says it didn’t work out and Paul is happy to hear that. Paul says Lestat is the devil. Lestat told Paul that he was there to take souls. Louis dismisses his brother’s claim, saying Lestat has tricks. Paul says mortal sins must be confessed, but Louis says he will never see Lestat again.
Paul asks Louis if Grace’s new husband loves her enough. Grace needs a lot of love. Louis thinks they will be okay. They had a good party for the new couple. Paul tells Louis that he loves him. Louis says he loves his baby brother too. Paul says he ate too much and then he walks off of the roof, killing himself.
Paul’s death destroyed Louis. Florence is beside herself and blames Louis for Paul’s death. She is certain that he said something to his brother to make him jump. Louis says they were just up there to watch the sun rise. Florence doesn’t believe him. She says Paul won’t get past the gates because he killed himself. He’s in hell because of Louis.
Louis and his family walk with Paul’s casket to his final resting place. The path takes them down Liberty street, but no one bats an eye. Lestat appears, desperate to talk to Louis. Louis dismisses him and Lestat is hurt. He says Paul longed for death. Louis gets angry and pushes Lestat away. The encounter distracted Louis and he was unable to grief his brother. The only thing he could think about was Lestat. Inside his head, he heard Lestat calling to him.
Louis didn’t go back to his family. He got drunk instead and ended up at a brothel looking for Lily. The madam told Louis that Lily contracted the fever that’s been going around. She died two weeks prior. Her blood had dried up inside of her. Louis knows it was Lestat.
IN THE THROES OF INCREASING WONDER
Louis runs to the church and begs for help. He tells the priest that the devil is in New Orleans and starts to confess his sins. Louis says he wants to die. There is a crash and the priest is pulled out of the confessional. Louis walks out to find Lestat feeding on the priest. He tries to kill Lestat but can’t. Lestat tells Louis not to put his faith in God.
Lestat offers to take away Louis’ sorrow and give him death. Or he can give him the dark gift. All Louis has to do is ask for it. Lestat confesses his love for Louis. Louis stares at Lestat, unable to say anything. Louis explains to Daniel that as much as Lestat’s words unnerved him, he forgot himself. For the first time in his life, Louis felt seen.
Lestat asks Louis to be his companion for all eternity. Louis kissed Lestat before the vampire drained Louis to the brink of death. Lestat then bit his own wrist and fed Louis his blood. Louis says he heard his heart beating and then he heard Lestat’s. When Louis opens his eyes, they are a different color.. They sit there for a long time, in throws of increasing wonder. It was the end and the beginning.
Interview with the Vampire isn’t what I was expecting, but it’s close. The series stars Anderson and Reid are both exceptional actors that aren’t bad on the eyes. Anderson brings to life the tortured soul that is Loius in a new way that showcases Louis’ more deviant side. And Reid as Lestat is so mesmerizing that it’s easy to see how people would give into his vampiric charms. I just love his accent!
There are things about the first four episodes of Interview with the Vampire that we would never see in 1976, or even 1994 television. For starters, Louis and Lestat are a gay couple. The book is told from Louis’ perspective and though he grew to hate what he becomes, he is in a loving relationship with a man. Louis struggles with his identity throughout the series, even after turning. Even in the 1920s, a gay, black man isn’t accepted in society. Add on the title of vampire and Louis begins to struggle to keep his humanity.
Is Lestat a predator? Yes and no. Lestat is completely enamored by Louis and finds subtle ways to be close to him. And Louis can’t help himself when the heat is turned up. Despite his fear of finding out what Lestat is, Louis gives into the vampire, becoming his immortal companion.
The Interview with the Vampire series is different, and yet the same. There will be some book enthusiasts that will hate the series. And others will praise it. If your only frame of reference is the film, then you probably won’t like it. This is an updated version of Anne Rice’s book. It’s Rice’s adaptation and one that I believe will be a more compelling story.
Interview with the Vampire airs Sunday nights on AMC. Watch episodes early on AMC Plus.
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