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Film both haunts and enchants viewers

by Archives February 27, 2002

The gullible movie fan can always count on the Hollywood Sophists to mislead us with a trailer. Upon viewing the trailer for Queen of the Damned, one would assume that since it boasted the late singer Aaliyah’s final film debut, she would have the predominant role. However, this is not the case, the singer’s scenes in the film have been unevenly slashed since her death and she appears mostly in the final stages of the film. Yet, that is not to say that the film revolves around her character. She is the titular character, but actor Stuart Townsend owns the film.
This is an apparent sequel to Interview With the Vampire. Townsend portrays the character Tom Cruise made famous in the former film. In this Gen-X film, Lestat returns after a century of sleep only to find himself bored with immortality. Thus making way for Akasha, a 6000-year-old Queen Vampire who promises him much more than he could ever imagine.
I must admit, expectations were low coming into this film. I am not an avid horror fan and do not find myself caring much for films of this caliber, yet many surprises were on hand upon the viewing of the film.
Released by Warner Brothers, the film was certainly modestly budgeted but contained some great production values.
The settings were elegant and the film captured a seemingly eerie yet graceful aura that did not make this film seem something it was not. Perhaps a borderline thriller, the film rarely makes an attempt to terrify. Yet tells a story of a vampire who awakens an ancient evil in order to search for more.
The film opens in an interesting manner and makes us realize that we should take this film a little more seriously than at first glance. Lestat returns only to find himself in a rock band and while the public thinks his Vampire gimmick is a front; Lestat has other plans that are conveyed by Townsend decadently immersing himself in the role of the lustful and bloodthirsty vampire.
Director Michael Rymer (Perfume, In Too Deep) is at the helm of what appears to be his first mainstream film and certainly surprises. Though the script may be quite weak, and the visual effects may also be characterized as ordinary, the discerning viewer will notice a solid attempt at creating a haunting and at times enchanting tale.
The film certainly has its flaws, if dissected; the objective viewer will note the pacing a tad bland at times and many things seem to be too convenient.
Yet the film does have an interesting cast including a surprisingly elegant and masterful French actor Vincent Perez as Lestat’s mentor Marias. Lena Olin also joins the cast as the watchful aunt of Jessie (Marguerite Moreau), a fanatical Vampire Scholar who will stop at nothing at discovering the secrets of the nocturnal.
I was quite surprised at the outcome of the film. Based on Anne Rice’s follow up novel to Interview With the Vampire, the same sensual and erotic themes are contained within the film yet are handed gracefully.
The film does not turn itself into a soft porn romp, but neither does it connect the sensuality to the cause. This in my view is one of the main conflicts within the film. The sensual undertones seem to be overshadowed by the film’s explicit attempts to woo us with its’ style and appeal.
Furthermore, the film seems to be gearing itself towards a Gen-X audience. How can one tell? Listen to the soundtrack: heavy metal tracks bombard the viewer in the film and makes an attempt to connect to the grunge attitude encompassing the present day world. Yet, in relation to poorer films that have the same target audience, this film escapes the trap without the slightest pretense.
Instead of overflowing itself with stupidity that it could have easily engulfed itself in, the film is embedded with an ambitious, admirable and tender eye that Rymer brings to the film. Is it the best film out there? No. Is it the best Vampire film? Leave that to The Lost Boys. Just enjoy this film for what it is: a matinee-like thriller that looks great and that may surprise many.

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