Turning a cult classic like Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles into a movie is not a task for the faint of heart, and screenwriters Scott Abbot and Michael Petroni have boldly taken up the challenge in this not-quite-followup to INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE. They've made the, ahem, interesting decision to take Rice’s subsequent two novels and distill them into one hour and 45 minutes of vapid, disjointed drivel.
I mean, what it going on here? Think of the worst music video ever and that, to be charitable, is what you’ve got here. Images contrived for an effect that never quite comes off as the music, and I use that term loosely, plays off and on while the ultra-cool wannabees on camera pose and preen. We dash from present-day
Sure, there are lots of neck bitings and even some wrist and bosom noshing. Plus many sets of glowing vampire eyes and much vampire flying, though oddly enough, flying around with or as a vampire never so much as stirs even one hair on the head. There's even vampires flambé. Through it all, one ponders one of the film’s props, a skeleton wearing a large fur hat. There’s no reason for it except that it’s odd-looking and, like everything else in the film, there’s no explanation proffered.
Now readers of the Rice vampire oeuvre will be able to sort much of this out. Such as Lena Olin, looking spectral but not, I think on purpose, as Maharet, one of the two twins about which there is a legend in the Chronicles. Or how it was that Akasha, the eponymous Queen of the Damned, became such. And who David (a particulrarly doleful-looking Paul McGann) is and why we should pay attention to him and how he will figure into the sequel that will inevitably ooze forth because if there’s a vampire in a movie, there’s an audience, usually dressed in black with lots of eye makeup and an interesting assortment of studs piercing places you and I don’t want to think about.
Stuart Townsend, an Irish actor with a boyish charm, plays the vampire Lestat by turning in a performance as lifeless as the character he portrays. He freezes his pointy face into a sneer that never changes while sporting enough white pancake body makeup to qualify him as the Pillsbury Doughboy’s evil, svelter twin. Victor Perez, an actor not without his own Latin charm, is Lestat’s maker, Marius, an ancient vampire over 2000 years old and grown both bored and boring with eternity. Alas, Perez is reduced to looking askance while trying, and failing, to make himself intelligible from behind the big vampire teeth, which, judging by his diction, he seems to wear in every scene, whether the scene calls for a fang-baring or not. As the titular character, Aaliyah wears scanty, vaguely menacing costumes that emulate without homaging Franzetta, and an unusually sinuous choice in eyebrows that has as their only virtue that they bear no resemblance to the ones Elizabeth Taylor sported in CLEOPATRA. As for her performance, one should never speak ill of the dead.
If you haven’t read the books or are a fan of Aaliyah, steer clear of this mess. But if you’d like a taste of how tedious eternity can be, this flick is a sure way to do just that.