A languid horror-lite coming of age vampire tale from an old gothic novella by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Carmilla is slow moving, banal, and struggles to maintain any sense of urgency or interest, no thanks to filmmaker Emily Harris’s approach to the material.
A teen girl’s boring home life is revitalized in ways she never thought possible when her family takes in a wounded young woman for a brief season.
Fifteen year-old Lara (Hannah Rae) lives a sheltered and strictly monitored life in 1872 on a vast country estate. Her governess (played by Jessica Raine) is a cruel overlord, constantly punishing Lara for small infractions and for having a short attention span. Clearly, Lara needs friends and some distraction in her life, and when one night there’s some hustle and bustle in the house, everything changes for Lara. A stagecoach accident on the estate has yielded a tragedy with only one survivor: a beautiful young woman (played by Devrim Lingnau). The girl is given a room to recuperate, but it takes several days for her to begin communicating, and when Lara is the first to connect with her, she finds out that the girl’s name is Carmilla and that she has a strange, otherworldly beauty that is striking and alluring to Lara, whose inner passions and curiosities are aroused by Carmilla, who insists on being “blood sisters” with Lara. With her every move monitored by her governess and with Carmilla pushing her boundaries further and further into a danger zone, Lara comes of age as she begins falling into temptation with the houseguest, but there is something much more sinister afoot with Carmilla than Lara can possibly imagine …
A languid horror-lite coming of age vampire tale from an old gothic novella by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Carmilla is slow moving, banal, and struggles to maintain any sense of urgency or interest, no thanks to filmmaker Emily Harris’s approach to the material. It’s a handsome looking production, but it contains itself to some dimly lit locations rather than relying on shadowy style the horror genre requires to revitalize the material, and its performances, while good enough, are not enough to maintain a reason to watch the film. Fans of erotic lesbian vampire pictures might be willing to take a gander, but this material has been done much stronger before.
Film Movement’s recent DVD release of Carmilla comes with a bonus short film and a behind the scenes feature.