Emily Harris’s romantic and demonic Carmilla brings to mind Tomas Alfredson’s vampire parable Let the Right One In and Julia Ducournau’s cannibalistic treatise Raw. All three films view coming-of-age through a fantasy prism, which imbues them with a mythical quality, making them that much more resonant and timeless. Don’t come in expecting Twilight, and you’ll be rewarded with a richly atmospheric, impassioned experience. Carmilla favors insinuation and gradual tension-building over portrayals of violence but doesn’t entirely shy away from explicit gore either; call it tasteful horror.
“The two instantly form a bond, frolicking through the vast green plains surrounding the estate…”
The introverted, quiet Lara (Hannah Rae) is raised under the strict tutelage of governess Miss Fontaine (Jessica Raine), who has a penchant for palm-lashing when, say, demonic books are borrowed without permission from her frequently-absent husband’s (Greg Wise) study. When Lara’s friend, Charlotte, falls gravely ill, she blames herself, believing that she’s summoned demons from the books. “I won’t let the devil into this house,” Miss Fontaine reassures her.
Cue a dark and stormy night. A young woman (Devrim Lignau) is brought in, passed out, and injured from a carriage crash. Amnesia-stricken, she comes face-to-face with Lara one evening, and therein her new name, Carmilla, is chosen. The two instantly form a bond, frolicking through the vast green plains surrounding the estate and skinny dipping under the moonlight. “Let’s be blood sisters,” Carmilla says. The local doctor (Tobias Menzies) becomes more and more convinced of Carmilla’s demonic origins. “There’s darkness in her eyes,” he says. So far, so very 19th-Century romance.
"…sensual, poetic, dark, and gothic..."