Late on October 25, fans of the webseries Carmilla were sent a link to stream the Carmilla Movie. I stayed up past my bedtime to watch it, and I am so glad I did. The hype among fans was very high. Even though I had seen roughly thirty screencaptures of the film from the various cast and crew, and had seen some details for the plot, I was very hazy about how this humble webseries was going to be adapted for film. All I knew was that I was excited for multiple cameras, close-ups, and my favorite characters to be back on my screen.
The anchor point of the movie is the relationship between Laura and Carmilla, who have been living blissfully for the last five years, even as Laura is having a millennial career crisis. Carmilla is enjoying living as a human for the first time in centuries, eating pastries and sunbathing in her free-time which is always. Meanwhile Laura is having little success as a journalist and is being plagued with nightmares about being terrorized by Carmilla when Carm was the kind of monster Sheridan Le Fanu and Bram Stoker warned us about. But Laura realizes that she’s actually reliving the memories of Carmilla’s first love and victim, Elle. Simultaneously, Carmilla starts turning back into a vampire, so something is definitely up. So they and their friends Perry, LaFontaine, Mel, and Kirsch try to figure it out and save Carmilla.
I want to say immediately that I loved the Carmilla Movie so much. It was exactly what I wanted to see in a film adaptation of a vlog-style webseries, if there is ever another example of that. The production succeeds where the webseries sometimes fell short. It had swelling background music in the suspenseful parts, action took place on screen when it had to take place off-camera in the webseries, and the camera could close in on subtle emotional moments, where the actors almost had to be theatrical in the original. Finally, the film successfully managed the line between making a show adaptation for old fans and new converts.
It was probably very difficult for the filmmakers to balance old fans and the crowd of people who have never watched the series. Laura spends just a few minutes in the beginning explaining what the first three seasons were about, and some time in the first third of the movie, a character says “We do have a lot of backstory.” But this movie is clearly for the fans of the webseries.
Natasha Negovanlis and Elise Bauman are excellent as always. Their characters’ relationship, while in a fantastical environment, has relatable conflict that avoids all kinds of queer relationship tropes. Also, Dominique Provost-Chalkley (Wynonna Earp) shines as Elle. I don’t want to give too much away about her character, but I do want to point out that all of the villains in the Carmilla franchise steal all the scenes they’re in. She was engaging to watch even across from my favorites, Carmilla and Laura. The Scooby Gang of LaFontaine, Perry, Kirsch and Mel are really good comic relief to contrast the suspenseful scenes and I enjoyed the return of some other favorites that I don’t want to spoil.
I think it’s everything I’ve ever wished for a movie adaptation of a beloved series (waiting on you, X-Files). I’m jealous of the Creampuffs who were able to watch it in theaters up in Canada, but watching Carmilla in bed with my laptop felt like home and I missed it terribly. If you didn’t pre-order it through VHX, it is available for purchase at FullScreen.com. I definitely recommend watching the series first before the movie. You can watch the series for free on KindaTV’s YouTube channel.