March 7, 2002

It Bites

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Queen of the Damned reveals to us mortals the secret lifestyles of vampires. It tries to glorify this lifestyle as a tantalizing playground of sex, blood, and rock ‘n’ roll, relying on visually dramatic shots and a blasting soundtrack to surround the netherworld in an aura of hipness. But instead, the chic angle director Michael Rymer was aiming for comes off more as a cheesy, campy affair in which everyone eagerly frolics in Gothic garb, plunging into each other’s necks for a pleasure-filled sucking fest.

Lestat de Lioncourt, played by Stuart Townsend, is the lonely creature of the night who just cannot endure his centuries of anonymous existence anymore. That’s why he does the unthinkable and decides to go public about his vampireness through music, using his pallid yet attractive good looks and sexy European rasp to transform himself into a morbid rock demigod. He encourages other vampires to “come out, come out, wherever you are,” as well so that they can all emerge from oblivion and join him to create hell on earth.

Lestat simply wants to coexist with humans, but someone wants to take his plan even further. She comes in the form of the powerful Queen of the Damned, Akasha, played by deceased R&B songstress Aaliyah. Akasha wants a complete vampire takeover, and she lures Lestat into her clutches to be her cohort by sharing her extreme powers with him. Now it’s up to a human named Jesse, played by Marguerite Moreau, and a group of “good” vampires to try to defeat Akasha and somehow return things back to normal. Seeing that Akasha can single-handedly burn a whole coven of vampires with a simple flick of a wrist, the task seems quite impossible.

The movie works itself up to the climactic showdown between Akasha and the others, but the characters are so weakly developed and unlikeable that we don’t really care who defeats whom, we just want them to all die. Lestat’s inability to accept his fate as a lonely vampire is simply irritating and unbelievable. Can’t he just attack some unsuspecting groupie and make her his eternal partner? Or can’t he just hang out with the other vampires lurking about? And does he really expect his fellow vampires to come out of hiding, when there are hordes of frightened humans ready to flash sunlight and stab stakes through them at a moment’s notice? Just let it go.

Jesse’s motives for risking her life for Lestat are also unclear. What exactly is so attractive about his morose self? What makes her so desperate to be like him? And what in God’s name makes her persistently beg him to attack her neck?

And poor Aaliyah is reduced to a hideous monstrosity who rips out people’s entrails while seductively pulling some dance moves. In fact, none of the actors can pull off the outrageously unbelievable acts and dialogue imposed upon them. The horribly draining, over-the-top theatrics end up sucking the movie of its energy, leaving it a limp, lifeless victim of its own bloodthirsty excess.

Archived article by Sherry Jun