Buckle Up Creampuff -- "The Carmilla Movie" is finally here!

Back in 2014, Carmilla, the show dubbed “The Little Web Series That Could,” premiered on what was then Vervegirl TV (now KindaTV) on YouTube. The show had an interesting premise – an adaption of the 1871 vampire novella (predating Dracula by 26 years) of the same name by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu reimagined as the web broadcast of a college student. 

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This web series, which spanned four seasons and a podcast, took this novella that warned against the dangers of female sexuality through a murderous vampire and her victim and created a love story between the two protagonists, Laura and Carmilla. With a story and mythology reaching past the novella’s and an incredible cast diverse both in race and sexuality, the series is beloved by its audience, and praised for its inclusion and discussion of the LGBTQ+ community and feminist ideals.

Now, three years later, The Carmilla Movie premiered across streaming platforms and in select theaters on October 26th. The film picks up five years after the series finale, and takes the characters back into the supernatural world they thought they were finished with.

As a fervent fan since Season 1, I had high expectations going into the movie. Production was announced a year ago, and I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release since. Much of the film’s plot was left vague leading up to the release, and while we were exposed to the film’s new cast of characters (Including Wynonna Earp’s Dominique Provost-Chalkley!) we had very little knowledge of how exactly they factored into the world of Carmilla. So, as soon as the film was released online, I sat down and played it.

The Carmilla Movie opens with an in-case-you-missed-it recap of where the gang last left off. It then goes into a quick update of where everyone is after five years (some thriving, some just surviving). This was much appreciated – even though the series only ended last year, it still feels like the diegetic five-year gap since we’ve last seen the characters is real.

After this exposition, we are shown the domestic life of Laura and Carmilla, something the fans have been asking for since Season 1. It's every part of the domestic bliss we’ve been hoping for – until Carmilla starts to lose control and “vamp out” after five years of being human. With this new development, and the startlingly vivid dreams Laura begins to have of Carmilla’s life 150 years ago, the gang heads back to Styria to find a solution. Even more specifically – back to the Schloss where Carmilla lived with her infamously tragic first love Elle.

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Firstly, the new format of the film is striking. Carmilla was shot in five-or-so minute episodes, and was filmed from a single stationary camera acting as Laura’s webcam while she broadcasted the events of the series to the audience. The movie follows a more standard filming format, with multiple camera angles and an uninterrupted 1 hour and 43 minute runtime. While this new format took a little while to get used to, the film was able to adjust its pace and tone to match the film’s slightly darker feel.

While the show dealt with threats from corrupt corporations, to vampire cults, to vengeful deities, it always managed to keep a mostly light-hearted tone. In fact, the show’s quick wit is one of its most endearing aspects. The Carmilla Movie has a more serious tone, tackling Carmilla’s figurative and literal ghosts she’s encountered in her over 300 years of being a vampire, and how that impacts her long-running relationship with Laura. However, that’s not to say the fun was lost. The characters’ trademark humor shone through as always, keeping the audience engaged and enjoying every minute.

And speaking of the characters…

Without a doubt, one of the best qualities of Carmilla is its cast of characters. Each member of the ensemble enhances the film’s experience by bringing their unique personality to the table. That’s the case in The Carmilla Movie as well. Though the film takes place five years after the end of the final season, we can see the characters we’ve loved since the beginning even through the changes they’ve gone through in-universe. The main cast includes enthusiastic journalist Laura, broody vampire Carmilla, super scientist LaFontaine, squeaky clean Perry, Amazonian Mel, and happy-to-be-here Kirsch. Nearly every beloved character in the original series gets at least a cameo or a shout out, proving the film’s dedication to fulfilling the expectations of the audience.

The relationships between the characters were emphasized throughout as well. The viewers got an unexpected bonus we didn’t know we needed with the relationship between Mel and Kirsch – though not emphasized nearly enough in the original series, Mel’s constant exasperation with Kirsch cracked me up in nearly every scene they shared in the film.

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Along with Mel and Kirsch’s stand-out development, we were treated with the long-awaited return of the maybe-friendship-maybe-more relationship between LaFontaine and (non-possessed) Perry. While I would have preferred for the two to have more screen time in the film, given the severe lack of it during the past few seasons of Carmilla, I was happy to see both the professional and personal sides of these two explored in the film. They may not see eye-to-robotic-eye all the time, but it’s unwaveringly clear that these two are always better together.

And finally, Laura and Carmilla. The series focused mainly on the story between these two, and the film is no different. Over the past three years, we’ve seen them fall in love, break up, be “friends,” and eventually find their way back to each other. Now we see them after being together for five years, the epitome of a domestic couple. It’s a new side to the two that we all know they deserve, and that the audience has been waiting to see for years. And it’s definitely worth the wait. Despite the drama that ensues in the film, as with any, the one thing that stays constant is how fiercely Laura and Carmilla love each other. And it’s amazing.

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Overall, though different from the original series, The Carmilla Movie is incredible and worth watching for any fan of the series, as well as anyone looking to find a new obsession. Despite the recap in the opening, I’d recommend watching the series before the movie – you’ll just appreciate it that much more.

The Carmilla Movie is available for screening here, and for purchase here. To watch the original series completely free, click here.

 

So in the immortal words of Carmilla Karnstein: “Buckle up, Creampuff” – this movie is one amazingly fun adventure.