Anne Rice's Mayfair Witches: Season 1 [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - United Kingdom - Acorn Media
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (7th February 2024).
The Film

When young California neurosurgeon Rowan Fielding (We Have Always Lived in the Castle's Alexandra Daddario) believes she has almost killed a colleague and actually caused an aortic aneurysm in a lecherous donor that killed him, she presses her ailing adoptive mother Elena (Smoke's Erica Gimpel) for information on her birth family. Elena dismisses her daughter's worries as delusions and claims that she has not been able to obtain any information on a "closed adoption" but, behind Rowan's back, she places a call to the paranormal Talamasca Society – a recurring presence in the Anne Rice multiverse first introduced to us cinematically in the underwhelming screen version of Queen of the Damned – with concerns that something might have "changed" in New Orleans.

On the other side of the country in an antebellum mansion on historic First Street, Dr. Lamb (The Magnificent Seven's Billy Slaughter) has taken over an elderly colleague's practice which includes house calls to a forty-seven year old woman (Mystic Pizza's Annabeth Gish) whose catatonic state he comes to believe has been sustained by daily injections of Thorazine. Under the nose of suspicious housekeeper/caregiver Delphine (Deepwater Horizon's Deneen Tyler), Lamb pretends to administer the shots but is actually attempting to bring her out of her waking coma; however, this also awakens a presence on another plane in Lasher (Two Jacks' Jack Huston), a spirit or demon who is the sole source of comfort for young Deirdre (Vampires Suck's Cameron Inman) as she is living under the oppressive thumb of her hyper-religious aunt Carlotta (Donnie Darko's Beth Grant) ever since the suicide of her mother who Deirdre believes was actually murdered. One night, Lasher convinces Deirdre to sneak out of the house to the mansion of her uncle Cortland (Clash of the Titans' Harry Hamlin) where there's "always a party" and he engineers her seduction by a handsome young man; whereupon she wakes the next morning to discover Patrick inexplicably dead and herself rapidly gestating a child. Believing that Carlotta has not only killed her mother and anything else that might her happiness including a child, Deirdre agrees to become Lasher's "witch".

After Elena's death, Rowan calls up the adoption agency hoping to obtain information herself only to discover that the agency was not in operation when she was adopted in 1991. She starts having strange dreams of her mother and a mysterious house and in waking life is bedeviled by beckoning voices and the unsettling omnipresence of crows – popularly omens of death but in a moment of possibly unintentional hilarity, she discovers a murder of them roosting above her not by their sound but by the fact that they have defecated all over her car – along with a very corporeal stalking in Ciprien Grieve (iZombie's Tongayi Chirisa), a Talamasaca investigator assigned to her case. Although instructed to protect Rowan and keep her ignorant of her origins, the combination of Rowan's latent powers and Grieve's psychic touch sensitivity lands him in the hospital and provides Rowan with clues to her origins in New Orleans via investigative photos taken on his dropped phone. Rowan heads to New Orleans and the house on First Street while a newly-lucid Deirdre employs the help of both her uncle Cortland and the powers of Lasher to lead her to her daughter not suspecting the plans the demon has for her.

A long in coming adaptation of Anne Rice's second most popular series of novels that started in 1990 with "The Witching Hour" followed by two subsequent novels, Anne Rice's Mayfair Witches can perhaps be excused in some ways for making changes and trims to adapt a near thousand page novel into eight hour-long episodes – although perhaps not dropping two major characters and combining them into a new original character – however, what cannot be forgiven is how boring the show is. The use of New Orleans as a setting for supernatural Gothic fiction and film has been done to death – particularly in the years since the publication of Rice's "The Vampire Chronicles" – and the film is full of the usual cliches while the look of the film is rather generic in terms of genre television, striving for the cinematic but looking no different from the likes of True Blood and the various series of American Horror Story that similarly meld period past and present events together (apart from a carnivalesque funeral procession sequence that seems more Wild Orchid than Mardi Gras).

After a cluttered start as the series moves back and forth between seemingly parallel stories until the viewer realizes the connection between the two principal characters – utilizing those same New Orleans cliches of characters living in the past to fudge the distinction between the two time periods – the series then goes through several ludicrous contrivances to constantly keep Grieve looking busy investigating while also failing to prevent Rowan from discovering more about her family, from sidetracking him to investigate a murder added to the adaptation to just leaving her at a funeral attended by her family trusting that she will head directly home rather than accept an invitation to a reception at the family home. In between other tiresome elements like a secret "brotherhood" of incel witch hunters responsible for a series of murders of women burnt alive throughout the country, paltry introductions to other members of the Mayfair clan who seem more like comic relief eccentrics, the series otherwise spins its wheels throughout the middle episodes.

Stylized flashbacks to the family's past in Scotland as midwives persecuted by the likes of Matthew Hopkins (The Walking Dead's Joshua Mikel) really tell us nothing more effectively than expository dialogue does more effectively elsewhere – squandering the opportunity to prove more background on the living Mayfairs conveying their family history to Rowan – and there is an entire bottle episode where Rowan and Grieve are trapped in the house and encounter ghosts condemned to haunt the house including men who have dared to love Mayfair women who have been bound to Lasher that just feels like a waste of running time (especially as this is the umpteenth time in which cutting abruptly to Rowan and Grieve in bed together as an indication that Rowan is either dreaming or Lasher has twisted the perceptions of one or both characters). The first season concludes by reducing Rowan from a self-confidant surgeon – self-assured that none of her abilities and intuition as a doctor have anything to do with Lasher's influence – to a mother whose only power comes from protecting an unholy offspring (which seems less like the effect of Lasher's gaslighting than the usual paternalistic narrative in which all women ultimately want to be mothers even of hellspawn).

Daddario is ill-served by bad writing, required to stare wide-eyed constantly at the camera – a similarly wasteful use of Gish however more compelling her visage – as is Chirisa who seems as much puppeteered by writing as the inner workings of the Talamasca society, while Hamlin hams, Beth Grant plays Beth Grant, and Jack Huston plays Jack Huston although that's true of anything he is in including "The Witches of Eastwick" television series adaptation. Other characters and the actors portraying them are utilized functionally, appearing as needed and disappearing even when they seem like they are being set up for more prominence in the story from Dr. Lamb in the opening episodes to Cortland's daughter (Tales of the City's Jen Richards) and the family's derisively-labeled "social justice warrior" witch Tessa (The Conjuring 2's Madison Wolfe) who is the target of online trolling from a misogynistic mortician (Ian Hoch) who wants to join the woman-haters club of witch burners (who seem derivative of the True Blood anti-vampire Fellowship of the Sun church on the cheap). Production design and location work are handsome enough, but the film's CGI and practical effects work is unimpressive in conception and execution while the direction of three female directors and one male one each with film and television horror genre pedigree fails to elevate the series. Anne Rice's Mayfair Witches has been renewed for a second season, but one can probably not expect any more fidelity to the other novels given the major changes in the first season.


Shot on high definition video and graded within an inch of its life with the usual desaturated palette – leaning towards the blue in present day sequences and the green in flashbacks – with various defocusing digital filters, Acorn's 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.66:1 widescreen encodes divided between two BD50 discs looks as good as it possibly can, revealing some nice textures in close-ups from hair and fabric to dιcor, location wood and stone, and some of the prosthetic make-up.


Audio options include English and Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 with plenty of surround activity including the usual background murmurs and whispers and a bassy presence underlining some of the supernatural activity. Dialogue is always clear and some Creole dialogue is given burnt-in English subtitles separate from the optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles.


There are no extras, which is especially puzzling since the broadcast versions of the series were followed up by AMC featurettes with the creators/writers discussing each episode.


Anne Rice's Mayfair Witches has been renewed for a second season, but one can probably not expect any more fidelity to the other novels given the major changes in the first season.


Rewind DVDCompare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to,,,,, and . As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.