Queen of the Damned (2002)
Director: Michael Rymer
Story by: Anne Rice
All the seductive energy and violence you would want from a vampire film oozes off the screen in the rich atmospheric tone of Queen of the Damned. There was a period soon after the hey-day of MTV and the pinnacle of the music-video where movies resembled music videos; lots of fast cuts, visual flashes that hint at the scenes set up, and active camera movement. Luckily Rymer interspersed this style with long slow motion shots (especially of Aaliyah) to add some variety. The film does indeed feel like a string of music videos with the storyline shuffled in between the visual montages. Add to that the music of Jonathan Davis (Korn) and the fact that in this film Lestat becomes the singer of a goth/metal band and you can’t help but draw the comparisons. But it works in this film which is a much bigger story in Anne Rice’ s Novel than can fit into a normal length movie.
The film seduces the viewer with sensual visuals in much the same way as Bela Lugosi’ s Dracula did to audiences in the 1930s. It also presents the visceral violence and blood that belongs in a vampire film (this is no Twilight!). Lestat (Stuart Townsend) plays the rock star persona perfectly. He is charming and dangerous, a lethal mixture for his female fans in the film. Akasha (Aaliyah) is a seductive diva whose every move is a graceful dance even as she dispels her underlings. With splayed fingers and a sly sideways glance her kinetic energy reaches through the screen. Throughout the film Aaliyah moves like a serpent and speaks like a serpent, with S-heavy whispers. It would have been an asset to the film if they had captured a bit of her singing voice to immortalize her even more after her untimely death.
For those who liked the goth-rock music scene of the time, and the music video style, the film should be enjoyable. However, those who don’t enjoy at least some of Davis’s music might feel the story is a little shallow and may not connect with the characters. Having been in the music scene for much of the first half of my life, as a musician and as a journalist, the film does connect with me. I also enjoy the visual artistry that film can be, especially when it’s joined with heady music. So you can choose to sit back and enjoy the spectacle or you could just pass on this film depending on your tastes. I choose to watch it.
An adaptation of Anne Rice’s novel that is just as much a visual medium as a story telling experience.
I give it 3.9 bloody fangs out of 5 on the visceral vampire vixen scale.