*This review contains some light spoilers for The Carmilla Movie.
Who would have thought that a webseries about a useless lesbian vampire and her tiny, gay roommate-turned-girlfriend would become a juggernaut of pop-culture? That an unlikely love story between two polar opposite lesbians would smash through the small screen and the leave the celluloid closet nothing but a pile of splinters in its wake. Yet that is exactly what Carmilla has done. The beloved webseries made the transition to the big screen this week, and everyone HAS FEELINGS.
I know, I know, you might be worried that I’ll probably be a little biased since I’ve been covering the Carmilla crew for years, but I write this review with all sincerity and the balanced insight of a grizzled entertainment critic. So how exactly is The Carmilla Movie?
It’s freaking awesome.
The Carmilla Movie manages to take all the things you love about the webseries, and turn the dial up to eleven. Carmilla (Natasha Negovanlis) and Laura (Elise Bauman) are a little older and wiser, but certainly don’t have it all figured out. What they do know is that they are still madly in love, and their bond is stronger than ever. Getting to see Hollstein outside of their static webseries quarters is an absolute delight, and the two actresses still have that rare chemistry together that speaks volumes even when they aren’t saying a word.
As you know from the trailer, Carmilla has mysteriously started to vamp out again, and Laura, ever the plucky investigative reporter, is determined to find the reason why. The gang gets back together to face their past in Styria, and sleuth around the old mansion that haunts Laura’s dreams and has some connection to Carmilla’s relapse. LaFontaine (Kaitlyn Alexander) and Perry (Annie Briggs) are now business partners (I won’t spoil what their business is), and manage to balance their bickering and devotion to each other beautifully.
Mel (Nicole Stamp) and Kirsch (Matt O’Connor) accompany them on the trip and fall back into their roles perfectly: Mel, the sarcastic badass, and Kirsch, the lovable doof. Speaking of Mel, her arc in the film was one of my favorite parts and made me wish there was a Mel spin-off somewhere out there.
Dominique Provost-Chalkley is haunting as hell as Ell, Carmilla’s former love. Provost-Chalkley, best known as the bubbly Waverly in Wynonna Earp, brings the pain to this role, both figuratively and literally. She straddles the line between villain and lost soul, and draws you into Ell’s web the way she has been drawing Laura in for weeks.
Grace Lynn Kung and Cara Gee as the Bronte sisters are a real treat, with Kung’s melancholy Charlotte, a perfect match to her free spirted sister, Emily. Another spinoff I’d love to see.
Negovanlis and Bauman are phenomenal, both together, and when they are forced to face their demons alone. Negovanlis has moments when she practically purrs her lines, leaving Laura (and the audience) putty in her capable hands, and can shift the mood with the raise of an eyebrow. She commands any room she’s in, never letting us forget that Carmilla is something to be reckoned with. Bauman’s Laura has a depth that has only deepened over time while maintaining the vulnerable do-gooder vibe that has always made Laura such a compelling heroine. Both actresses have an insatiable thirst for their craft, and they are in every sense of the word, stars in this film.
I lost track of how many times my jaw hit the ground, or I laughed out loud, or was on the edge of my seat. Spencer Maybee ‘s direction is spot on, and opens up the world of Carmilla without losing any of the charm or coziness of the story fans love so much. Writer Jordan Hall teamed up with Alejandro Alcoba (Degrassi: Next Class), who wrote the story and screenplay, and manages to capture the feeling of the show as if he was there from the beginning.
We are still very much living in a world that doesn’t prioritize the stories of LGBTQ audiences, and The Carmilla Movie is an example of the underestimated power of queer fans. While the film received funding from a variety of places, fans were a big part of that. One thing we can do to show those who are making movies, television, and pop culture, is that projects like The Carmilla Movie can show up, kick ass, and make money. You can support the film here. Grab some tissues, cupcakes, and buckle up, Creampuffs. It’s a hell of a ride. Oh yeah, and whatever you do, keep watching all the way to the end of the credits. You won’t regret it.