Interview with the Vampire is a terrible movie.
Before you read on there’s no coronavirus related content within. Saw a bad film and thought I’d share with you why I didn’t like it.
Ever since watching Freddie Got Fingered I’ve been addicted.
What’s my addiction?
To find a film that has been misunderstood and due for reappraisal.
I thought Interview with the Vampire might possibly be one of those films.
The guy compares books and films. He said the movie was alright and I thought maybe give it a go.
This will be the last time I take a film recommendation from this guy.
Interview with the Vampire is awful.
In it, Brad Pitt is a vampire who tells his story to Christian Slater in modern-day San Fransisco. The course of the story spans 200 years, not that you’d know it. From him first being turned into a vampire up until the present day.
There’s going to be spoilers, so consider yourself warned.
First of all, the positives before I lay into this film.
Interview with the Vampire: The positives
The film is gorgeous, and you feel like there’s a real sense of scale. The world it takes place in feels big.
Kirsten Dunst is impressive to shoulder the burden of such a significant role on someone so young.
Stephen Rea is in it. Stephen Rea generally brings films up by a notch. Here is no exception. I just wish he had more to do.
OK, that’s it, now onto the bad.
Interview with the Vampire: The negatives
Pitt and Cruise are woefully miscast
They should have had Pitt or Cruise but not both. The two of them together are just bad. Pitt is mopey and one-note. I don’t know if that’s down to the direction, script or could be Pitt is still learning the ropes at this point of his career.
Cruise is terrible. He’s either muttering or overacting. Flailing his arms about and stamping his feet. Don’t get me wrong, I think Tom Cruise is an extremely likeable screen presence. I’m grateful for the work he has done for action and sci-fi over the years. He’s the west’s answer to Jackie Chan. This guy risks his life to entertain us. However, it occurs that all my favourite Cruise films, except for one, are post-2000. Period drama is out of his range. They should have got someone more experienced, an older actor. Someone like Ian McKellan or Anthony Hopkins. It would have been more in keeping with the overt gay coding the film revels in and give the film a degree of respectability. The two leads come across like Bill and Ted in certain parts.
Making it up as they go
You aren’t told of any of the rules of vampires at any point. We’re told of rules after the fact. “You did this, it’s against the rules”. Since you never get a sense of what is and what isn’t allowed, you feel like the rules are arbitrary and made up as they go. Sunlight is deadly but they show up in mirrors, that sort of thing. It’s not apparent what the rules are. The only exception to this is how someone becomes a vampire. That’s handled well.
Telling instead of showing
Having the interview framing device means the filmmakers can insert voiceover whenever they feel like it. There is so much of the story described instead of shown. You’re told that Brad Pitt loses his wife and child early on. Is this a motivating factor for his character? We don’t know because we never see them and we never get a sense of his grief.
Later when Brad Pitt and Dunst take a ship to Europe they yada yada the journey. They can’t go out in sunlight, they have to sleep in coffins yet they leave without coffins? We’re told an illness sweeps the ship. Are they the ones doing the killing? Are they going for an unreliable narrator? I don’t know it’s made explicit.
No honeymoon period
We never get to see the fun side of being a vampire. Brad Pitt is made a vampire early on, and he is miserable for the rest of the film. Like if he’s so miserable why doesn’t he kill himself, what is the appeal of being a vampire?
If there is one, then we are never shown.
The frigging dialogue
You never got a sense of who these characters are. The dialogue is always about ideas and never reveals character. It comes across as pretentious. You know the kind of dialogue I mean? Lines like, “Why has God forsaken us?” “God, God is a fairy tale told to children on a cold winters night,”. It feels like reading an edgy teens diary rather than the conversations immortals would have.
At around the midpoint Kirsten Dunst has had enough of Tom Cruise. She slits his throat. He bleeds out, and they work out what to do with the body. They decide to bury him in the swamp. They go out to the swamp dump Tom Cruise’s body and return home. Who is playing the piano when they get back? Well if it isn’t Tom Cruise. They then set fire to him and burn the place down. There is an inordinate amount of time devoted to killing Tom Cruise twice and he doesn’t even stay dead.
It’s a repeated scene, and it feels like the storytelling equivalent of wheel spinning. There are a few scenes that are repetitive. On three separate occasions Brad Pitt takes a huff and burns a place to the ground. It’s not a thematic device; it’s annoying. The only thing worse than a repeated scene, is a repeated scene. The only thing worse than a repeated scene is a repeated scene.
The ending is fucking yikes
Rarely, the last few minutes can somehow take a film down a few notches.
This film somehow managed to pull it off. Overall the movie was bad it was a 5/10. Check it out if you like vampire films but the ending is so misjudged and tone-deaf it put it into the category of a stinker.
Delayed first plot point
You’ll know what’s coming next.
The first plot point doesn’t happen until the forty-minute mark.
This is the death of so many films and Interview with the Vampire is no exception. I’m not going to go on and on about it but if they moved Kirsten Dunst turning into a vampire to the 20-minute mark. If they devoted more time after that to explore the family dynamic, it might have saved the film.
Might being the operative word.
Where did Interview with the Vampire go wrong, my thoughts
Without knowing what went on behind the scenes here’s where I think it went wrong.
Anne Rice wrote the book and also the screenplay.
What makes a good novelist does not make for a good screenwriter.
From what I gather, Rice wrote the book as a means of dealing with the grief from losing her daughter. That’s fair enough, I am sympathetic to that, but it feels like she was too close to the material to be objective. As in she was more concerned about bringing the book to the screen rather than adapting it for the screen. If that makes sense.
A more experienced screenwriter or a co-writer would have been better than her being on script duties alone.
Director Neil Jordan comes across as more a writer who happens to direct rather than a director. He’s not a Spielberg, Fincher or Kubrick. It seems as if he wanted to stay true to the spirit of the book. He probably succeeded. However, what works in book form does not always translate to the screen.
If the storytelling was more disciplined, and we got more of an insight into the characters. If their motivations were better explained this film could have been a lot better.
It’s an interesting snapshot of early nineties big-budget costume drama. You have Brad Pitt hot off Thelma and Louise, Cruise the movie star wanting to strut his stuff. Jordan coming off the back off his own Oscar win for The Crying Game filming the zeitgeist novel. On paper, I’m sure it was a dead cert. It’s interesting in that regard, but it doesn’t stand on its own merit. This gothic twist on a Merchant/Ivory film lacks teeth.
If I was a better writer, I’d make a connection between the immortality of vampires and how this film is a time capsule itself.
Alas, I’m not that good a writer.
Just imagine I wrote something witty.
Interview with the Vampire feels like a grandparent of Twilight, Fifty Shades and even Brokeback Mountain.
But it is not good.
Interview with the Vampire is not good at all.
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