Hannah Rae, Devrim Lingnau, Jessica Raine, Greg Wise
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…effectively composed… unsettling production design and an appreciation for atmosphere that does not indulge in horror-movie parlour tricks.
The OG vampire romance, Sheridan Le Fanu’s 19th century gothic-novella, Carmilla, is brought to life with equal parts mood and brood.
Set within the eery moors of the English countryside, the film follows Lara (Hannah Rae), a curious fifteen-year-old who is cared for by conservative (not to mention commanding) governess, Miss Fontaine (Jessica Raine). Isolated, Lara longs for connection. Her father (Greg Wise), a widower, remains absent from the day-to-day. Their exchanges are brief and reserved for meal-time chatter.
It is not until the arrival of Carmilla (Devrim Lingnau), a heavily accented, porcelain skinned teen who has mysteriously survived a devastating crash, does Lara’s sheltered world get turned upside down. Their budding relationship, met with a string of simpering smiles and wistful glances, speaks to a companionship that, for the time, cannot be.
Though things might not be as innocent as they seem…
Writer-director Emily Harris adds enough searing edge to Carmilla to keep it sharp throughout its brief length. Horror elements, brought out in Lara and Carmilla’s tense exchanges, simmer to an ominous boil, with Harris using the confines of the genre to tackle notions of gender roles and female sexuality. It is an effectively composed feat; one which the talented filmmaker achieves through unsettling production design and an appreciation for atmosphere that does not indulge in horror-movie parlour tricks.