The Film Movement Shocktober 13, 2020 DVD release of the gothic thriller "Carmilla," which is based on the 1872 novella of the same name, is a great chance to enjoy Halloween-style fun during a time that it is not safe to go back in the water. This beautifully filmed equally atmospheric and symbolic tale awesomely tells a tale of inner and outer demons. Creepy spinster governess Miss Fontaine is the icing on the cake.
This tale of an infatuation that dares not speak its name centers around 15 year-old Lara, who lives a sheltered existence at the country estate where her father and Fontaine are her only companions. Youthful exuberance as to the anticipation of fresh blood in the form of a visit from peer Charlotte turns to disappointment as to learning that an illness is requiring postponing that event.
The story gets fully underway when the titular member of the carriage trade becomes an unexpected manor house guest on getting injured in an accident involving her apt transportation. The girls soon unexpectedly meeting in a shadowy room is one of the best scenes in the film.
An equally creepy scene that centers around the luck of angels as opposed to the luck of the devil is a close runner-up for the best scene in the film.
Those of us with a 21st-century perspective quickly grasp the underlying nature of the affection of the innocent Lara for her new friend. We equally rapidly figure out that Carmilla is a skilled seductress. Fontaine subtly encouraging Lara to follow her heart is a wonderfully modern twist.
The tale soon darkens on realizing the extent to which Carmilla seduces and abandons her prey. This leads to a compelling climax (truly no pun intended) in which Fontaine plays a major role.
The artistry in all this extends beyond the spot-on performances by the entire cast; this thought-provoking tale is highly symbolic as to the evil nature of seducing someone who is pure into acting on a desire for a same-sex relationship. This is very much in keeping with commentary on sin in the gothic genre in the same manner that sexual activity determines the order of killings in slasher flicks.
Movement pairs "Carmilla" with the 2006 short "Three Towers" by "Carmilla" writer/director Emily Harris. This artistic black-and-white film takes a poignant look at 911 from the bickering perspectives of a European old farmer couple that cannot agree as to whether two or three towers were hit. The broad appeal relates to most of us relating either to the wife who constantly harps or to the husband who is the victim of this criticism. The very-strong live-stage vibe of "Towers" further enhances the appeal of this one.
Movement augments all this with an entertaining and insightful 27-minute making-of feature (complete with audition footage) in which Harris and cast members discuss the film. Learning that the first two actresses to audition for the two leads do such a good job that they are quickly hired is one of the most delightful moments in this film that makes it clear that all involved were perfectly matched as to their on-screen and behind-the-camera roles.