The lesbian vampire novella Carmilla was written in 1872 by Irish author Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, predating Bram Stoker’s Dracula by 25 years, and was likely the first story written in English to prominently feature lesbianism. Since then, Carmilla has been told and retold, filmed and refilmed countless times. Look it up on IMDB and the listing goes back to the very early 70s, just in film and television alone. It’s a timeless Gothic classic that is both horrifying and erotic, both heartbreaking and sexy.
In this retelling, director Emily Harris opts to keep the setting very Gothic and very British, moody and overcast. 15-year-old Lara (Hannah Rae) lives in isolation in a large, drafty house with her father and her very strict governess, Miss Fontaine (Jessica Raine). Her days are spent waiting not-so-anxiously for the arrival of Charlotte, a friend who lives in another town, so Lara will finally have somebody her own age to spend time with and discuss things that have her teenage brain curious about life, herself, and her burgeoning sexuality. When Charlotte falls ill and must cancel, Lara sinks into a depression. She’s sad, terribly lonely, and tired of Miss Fontaine’s attempts to make a proper lady out of her (going so far as to battle against the fact that Lara is left-handed –the horror!).
One carriage crash in the night will change Lara’s world forever.
Enter the mysterious Carmilla (Devrim Lingnau), a victim in said carriage crash, who is brought to Lara’s house to recover from her injuries. Carmilla is young, beautiful and alluring to everybody in the house, but especially to Lara, and the two form a bond that quickly slides from friendly to sensual to downright sexy before it hits the border of sinister and lingers there. When Lara falls ill in a very similar fashion to other young girls in neighboring towns, and the only common denominator is Carmilla, Lara’s father and Miss Fontaine decide they must take some kind of action to save her.
~ Georgia Beers
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