The acting was generally very good especially strong from Bauman and Negovanlis. Briggs was entertaining too.
The absurdity of some of the Silas goings-on (giant mushrooms) are genuinely funny.
The slow, gradual thus natural build of Laura and Carmilla's relationship. Their waltzing episode was a real highlight. Fun, flirtatious yet still very chaste. Though way back when, "it might as well have been sex".
Bauman and Negovanlis are spectacular, but the rest of the cast are just not on their level. They aren't bad per say (Briggs is very, very good), but they could perhaps make the performance feel less forced. Furthermore, reactions in the background to what's happening in the foreground--instead of standing still--would be more believable,.
As mentioned above, there were some production errors like the sound.
The opening sequence and actual font of 'Carmilla'--though I suspect it's probably too much of a favourite to change now--doesn't appeal.
Buckle up, Creampuffs. Let’s hear why all fifty thousand of you like #Carmilla so much!
You may be forgiven for not knowing what ‘Carmilla‘ is, who ‘Carmilla’ is, and why on earth ‘Carmilla’ has been written so many times in one sentence. Perhaps you may know ‘Carmilla’ as the infamous novella written by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. Do not be fooled by the word ‘novella’. It’s rather tedious. But pleasantly, the webseries, very loosely adapted from the novella, is not.
You may also think ‘why a webseries?” Firstly, the official Twitter account has a whopping fifty-one thousand followers. Secondly, on the theme of representation, ‘Carmilla’ is really rather fantastic on that front.
As for the plot, it is a little haywire. You can watch all the episodes starting here, It’s conveniently set up in the style of a vlog, narrated by journalism student Laura Hollis (the rapid-talking but charming Elise Bauman). In contrast, her very vampiric but darkly alluring new roommate is—you guessed it!—Carmilla (Natasha Negovanlis).
Laura, the intrepid investigator, decides to take matters into her own hands by tracking down some missing girls. It’s simple enough until you remember her university. Silas is strange. One episode literally features giant mushrooms. It sets the wheels into motion for the next seasons, as well as a budding romance with Negovanlis’ Carmilla. There’s a stupidly fun Christmas special too. For now, let’s delve into why this gripped the fans by storm.
Elise Bauman and Natasha Negovanlis are the stars of this by miles—especially Bauman, who often holds entire episodes alone.
The two leads, Bauman and Negovanlis, hold the show together. Bauman in particular could potentially toe the line between irritating or charming, and she’s firmly on the charming side. There’s something very ‘Hermione Granger’ about her depiction of Laura Hollis. She’s the birth child of Veronica Mars and Lois Lane…trained in krav maga.
‘Carmilla’ is low-budget but it is high in heart and integrity. Negovanlis, as the series’ brooding vampire, is perfect. Her reactions in the background too, when she’s out of frame, are fantastic. Her lazy, wistful drawl as she speaks is wonderful. Though Negovanlis looks young, she is very convincing as a wizened vampire who has seen it all. The speech in which Negovanlis talks about liking watching stars at night is so intimately delivered that it genuinely makes you shiver. A standout episode for both would be the episode in which Carmilla attempts to seduce Laura. It’s tense, uncertain, sexy and dead silent. There’s no-one but them. Well. Not until Carmilla gets kidnapped…
Their relationship is the highlight of the show. Apart, they are great. Together, romantic or not, they are exquisite. Laura and Carmilla are polar opposites but that’s what makes them work. The chemistry between the duo is undeniable. It’s believable, and carefully built-up. It’s intimate, and that could partially be down to the way the series is shot. But perhaps it is their longing glances, and the knowledge that Carmilla would likely do anything for Laura. Including killing her mother.
The supporting cast are consistent and Annie Briggs in particular shines.
Let’s start with Perry (Briggs). Perry is somewhat of a neat-freak. She is the floor’s RA and she worries approximately five billion times more than the average person. In fact, she worries so much that she genuinely quivers when she speaks. And that’s not just her voice, but her entire body. When her best friend, Lafontaine, goes missing, she dramatically flops down on Laura’s bed and snoozes. When you write it down, Perry sounds like a caricature of a character. It sounds as if the prompt was: “just play super nuts”. Perhaps it was! Who knows? But the thing is, Annie Briggs is so good at playing Perry that it does not feel clichéd at all.
Briggs plays her to perfection because she does not just say the lines in a hysterical voice. She utterly embodies Perry.
Other characters include the very tall and very noble Danny Lawrence (Sharon Belle). She’s somewhat of a gung-ho Summer Society warrior-type. We also have Will (Aaron Chartrand), and Kirsch (Matt O’Connor). Though they make brief appearances, they’re particularly entertaining to watch together (“I’m choking you, bro!”). Lastly, Kaitlyn Alexander is Lafontaine, who goes by gender-neutral terms (‘they’ or ‘them’). The fact that its barely mentioned, and that even Perry addresses her by ‘Lafontaine’ (not ‘Susan’) at the end was quietly heart-warming. It was acceptance. Not just for Lafontaine, but for many watching,
The vlog-style cinematography means we get a more intimate view into Laura’s room—and some entertaining footage of Carmilla being mischievous.
Spencer Maybee’s direction is well done. And it must have been an absolute nightmare, We’d imagine it’d be something like the theatre…only worse. By using a single camera (vlog-style), group shots mean that every single character who needs to be in the shot is in the shot. You cannot block them from view.
The only quibble production-wise was the sound. At some points it didn’t quite seem as if the sound was level. As a result, some sentences were slightly muffled. However, that can be sorted for the next season (as we have yet to watch!).
Jordan Hall’s script is nice and zippy. Full of dry humour and quick-witted sentences, it’s gleefully delivered by the actors (especially Bauman’s upbeat naivety and Negovanlis’ sarcastic drawl). Another thing to be grateful for is the length of time it took for Laura and Carmilla to confess their feelings for each other. By then, felt natural and earned (well—Carmilla had died). It was a gorgeous way to end the series.
‘Carmilla’ is low-budget but it’s got a lot going for it. It was relieving to watch something that didn’t focus on their sexuality but rather on their mutual attraction. It was inevitable the moment Carmilla stepped into the room. If the pair were opposites, they were opposite ends of a magnet. Irresistibly drawn together. That’s how to portray an LGBT relationship! Bravo!
CARMILLA is free to watch on YouTube–its third season has just started.
Give It A Go: Carmilla Season 1 [YouTube]