As we enter into October, I’m sure one of us here (not me) will be reviewing the latest horror phenomena on the screen. Before we do that though, I’d like to take you through a real horror; the dismantling of source material.
I’ve been reading when we are slow at work and recently finished a book. Seeking to escape into another one before the feeling of loss that comes from finishing a book hits, my lovely girlfriend, Carmyn, suggested the start of one of her favorite series, Interview with the Vampire. I thoroughly enjoyed it for the surprising amount of introspection and moral ambiguity in question. Anne Rice weaves together a faint eroticism with an underlying desire of wanting desperately to belong somewhere in a way that is captivating to the reader and spellbinding into a world she has painted…This did not find its way onto the screen.
The odd thing about that, more than anything else, is that Anne Rice herself wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation, albeit, it was her first known attempt at doing so. That being said, the integrity of the book should have been more likely to have remained intact, but so much of it was sacrificed by its very creator. It was as if the author did not understand why her audience was in love with her book in the first place.
The main character, Louis, in the book is thoughtful, tormented, passionate, and in a state of constant agony as he struggles to find himself and where he belongs. We watch a struggle within him as he questions if he is of angels or demons, whether there is evil, and if there is gradation or if he is damned. In the movie, Louis is Brad Pitt doing his impression of a stunt dummy dressed in a Pulp Fiction costume.
There is no emotion in his performance or the emotion feels unnatural. As my high school theatre director used to say, he’s “a sack of potatoes.” When you turn your main character/narrator into a sack of potatoes, you are probably going to want some overacting to go with it. For as dull and uninteresting as Brad Pitt is in this movie, everyone else is prematurely auditioning for The Greatest Showman. That is to say, the overacting in this film is circus-like and pulls you out as the tone and atmosphere are disjointed from poor direction. The pacing of the film doesn’t help in this matter either, as pivotal moments in the book are rushed or forced for the sake of time and “THAT’S FROM THE BOOK!” moments. Yet, the director felt that we had the time to watch Lestat jump over a fire for like…no reason. This scene comes out of nowhere and adds nothing, yet we get nothing of Babette, the woman who sends Louis into his soul searching.
The real tragedy of the film, though, is that we are never shown why any of them are upset; we never see them deal with the tragedy of immortality versus the abilities granted to them by being vampires. We just get to see a bunch of rich, pale people whine about first-world problems. If I wanted that, I would have just watched some BS on E! Armand (Banderas) is supposed to be the most powerful vampire in the film (that we know of), and he shows us his great power by…making some girl faint? That’s not a vampire power. Banderas probably makes that happen on the daily when he gets groceries. There are no fights between them either. All the fights in the book are replaced with weird, comical slap fights and/or complete submission. When we remove the pros and cons and the judgment of either, we are just left with a group of rich, white arsonists who set their house on fire every hundred years or so for funsies.
As I noted earlier, moments in the book that are impactful and meaningful either come so late in the film that they lose their meaning, come out of nowhere for those who haven’t read the book, or are rushed, defeating the purpose of having it in there at all. The talks with Armand don’t fit tonally, as we did not spend the time earlier developing Louis’ questions of evil, what it means to be immortal, and where they came from. There isn’t the same sadness of a man finally finding someone who may know more than him struggling with those same questions in their own way. In the movie, it just feels like Pitt and Banderas just said things they were paid to say.
The largest and most discombobulating change from the book, however, is the ending of the movie. The book ends with the interviewer getting upset that it sort just ends with where they are now, with no resolution. Lestat is a zombie of his former self, not able to adapt to the new time and take care of himself. The interviewer wants to be immortal so that he can use it for all of his ideas. Louis is enraged that he doesn’t understand the point of the story; that it doesn’t end and it doesn’t matter. That is the tragedy of immortality. He attacks the interviewer and leaves him partially drained. The interviewer asks if he is going to die, and Louis leaves saying he doesn’t know. It’s a nice capstone. The movie instead has the interviewer escape the attack and drive away, only to be attacked by Lestat who suddenly feels like it is a good time to show up and get over his fear of the modern world. It’s founded in nothing and makes no sense with the previous scenes. I’m sure it was done to open the doors to a sequel film, but this movie was critically slammed. For the above-average budget they had, the writing, direction, acting, and effects were all subpar at best. Keep in mind, this is the same year Forrest Gump came out.
All in all, this movie is a garbled mess of poor decisions and apathy that don’t add up given the resources they had available. With ample amounts of money and the source creator herself onboard, I cannot fathom how this film escaped them so totally and without thought. Let this film stand as a horror story, an example, if you will, to learn from of the dangers of adapting books to film. Otherwise,