Sam Reid (L) and Jacob Anderson start in "Interview with the Vampire." Photo courtesy of AMC
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- The initial episodes of Interview with the Vampire, premiering Oct. 2 on AMC, not only expand Anne Rice's novel in the time allotted a series, but also update major themes for a 2022 audience.
In the present, Louis de Point du Lac (Jacob Anderson) invites Daniel Malloy (Eric Bogosian) for another interview. The interview in the novel took place in the '70s, when Malloy was a young man.
Now, Malloy is a veteran journalist, sober, and has Parkinson's disease. Louis tells his story again, but this time Malloy asks different follow-up questions.
In 1910 New Orleans, Louis meets Lestat (Sam Reid), who turns him into a vampire. The flashback story is faithful to the plot of Rice's novel, but the updates give it different resonant themes.
A Black man in the American past is different than a White man, undead or not. Louis is held back by White society no matter how sound his business plans are.
Becoming a vampire makes it tempting to turn the tables on a prejudiced society. One episode deals specifically with White businessmen sabotaging Black landowners.
AMC also goes there with Louis and Lestat's sexual relationship, something that was left ambiguous in the Brad Pitt-Tom Cruise movie. There's nothing ambiguous in the show, and they can be more overt on screen than perhaps even Rice could write in her novel.
The series is in no rush to dispatch Lestat, which comes about halfway through the book and the film. Over the course of 42-minute episodes, AMC's show spends more time exploring the Louis-Lestat dynamic.
The extra time also allows a bit more subtlety in the characterizations. Lestat still is a tough love vampire mentor, but perhaps not as melodramatic.
Louis is not as mopey or self-destructive, though he still resists feeding off humans.
Claudia (Bailey Bass) isn't introduced until the end of Episode 3. Again, making her a young Black girl adds further complications to making a child a vampire for all eternity.
The circumstances of Louis and Lestat turning Claudia are more complicated than seeking a companion. The show presents a lot more details about how a child vampire functions differently than an adult one, and Bass embraces her supernatural hyperactivity.
The present story between Louis and Malloy is a bit deeper now, too. Louis is using modern technology to be awake in the daylight, with high-tech tinted windows in his apartment.
Since the interview from the book happened, it is canon. This is a new interview that covers familiar territory, but adds new details.
As Malloy compares his two interviews, the show deals with the inconsistency of memory. If human beings mix up details, imagine a vampire trying to keep track of centuries of memories.
Louis still reminds Malloy he has supernatural powers, so he's not to be trifled with. The violence is bloody as hell because it's still a vampire show.
The COVID-19 pandemic exists in this world, to the extent that Malloy can no longer travel for work because he's immunocompromised. One can imagine knowing vampires are real will become all the more tempting for a person with a chronic medical condition.
Interview with the Vampire has an ambitious take between faithful adaptation and expansion of the source material. It's still early, but so far, the episodes succeed in creating a satisfying representation of the material while suggesting provocative new threads.
Interview with the Vampire airs Sundays at 10 p.m. EDT on AMC with new episodes streaming a week early on AMC+.
Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a UPI entertainment writer based in Los Angeles. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001 and a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012. Read more of his work in Entertainment.