This movie is a camp sandwich. The beginning chunk has Tom Cruise’s Lestat and Brad Pitt’s Louis hamming it up in what is clearly meant to be a gay relationship. It starts off by showing us the man-biting-another-man-on-the-neck scene in a pretty suggestive manner, then it goes into overdrive when the two of them are biting different parts of the same prostitute until she is completely drained of blood and the two of them can bicker in private.
The movie ends with another campy and gay chunk: after Louis has abandoned Lestat, he goes to Europe where he runs in Antonio Banderas’ Armand. The final scene between Louis and Armand sees the two men so close together that their faces are only inches apart; the tension in the scene isn’t in the argument they are having but in whether or not they will kiss. (Although Pitt’s face grazes Banderas’ face, it isn’t a kiss.)
But the middle isn’t nearly as campy, and it’s much more interesting as a result. Louis’ main foil in that section of the film is actually not any sort of love interest: it’s his adopted vampire daughter Claudia. There’s something unsettling about Claudia, because there’s something fundamentally wrong about the idea of a killer child. (I suspect it’s a deeply ingrained fear in humanity, because the only reason why toddlers don’t killer their parents when they are throwing a fit is because they lack the power to do so; a toddler with Claudia’s powers would be ungovernable and truly dangerous because she lacks the ability for empathy and the patience of an adult.)
Claudia’s section also gets at the scariest part of vampire lore, which is not about their ability to murder humans, but at their ability to corrupt us from the inside. Because Claudia was an innocent child before Lestat and Louis turned her into a murderer, her very existence shames Louis and causes him to question how much good is left in him. The push and pull he feels towards this child who is a monster but who is a monster because of him is incredibly compelling, because it taps into elemental fears that parents have about their offspring inheriting their flaws.
Both the campy parts and the more serious parts of this movie are entertaining in their own way, and they make sense together because Pitt is a worthwhile anchor for the whole movie. But a part of me does wish that this had focused more on Claudia and been closer to Let the Right One In and spent less time overdoing the goth parts that begin and end the story, which are more of a piece with something sillier like The Lost Boys.