Sex, gore in elegant 19th century vampire love story.
No reviews yet.Add your rating
No reviews yet.Add your rating
Common Sense is a nonprofit organization. Your purchase helps us remain independent and ad-free.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Carmilla is a vampire love story based on Sheridan Le Fanu's 19th century novella. The story has been filmed many times, mostly in the form of exploitation or horror movies (as well as this series), but this film is more elegant and more focused on emotions: It's well worth a look for mature viewers. Expect some scenes with blood and gore, a nightmare in which a body is being sawed in half, hands getting cut on sharp objects, and kissing with blood on lips. A dead body that's impaled with a huge piece of wood is shown, and a vampire is impaled with a stake (blood spatters shown). Other iffy images include beatings and unusual drawings. Characters kiss and have sex up against a wall, with their clothes on, and teen girls kiss several times. One straddles the other, but they're interrupted. Language and substance use aren't issues.
There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.
What's the Story?
In CARMILLA, it's the late 1800s, and teenage Lara (Hannah Rae) is lonely. Her mother has passed away, her father is often busy, and she spends most of her time with her strict, pious governess, Miss Fontaine (Jessica Raine). Lara eagerly awaits a visit from her friend Charlotte, who lives in a neighboring town, but the trip is canceled when Charlotte falls ill. Soon after, there's a carriage accident, and Lara's family brings the survivor, a young woman about Lara's age (Devrim Lingnau), inside. The newcomer says she can't remember who she is, so she invites Lara to give her a name; "Carmilla" is chosen. The two young women become inseparable, and Carmilla suggests that they become blood sisters, an act that awakens passionate new feelings in Lara. Soon, however, Lara starts to grow pale and lethargic ...
Is It Any Good?
Writer-director Emily Harris' movie elegantly avoids genre clichés and exploitation elements, instead narrowing in on the characters' loneliness and longing, making their emotions almost palpable. Based on Sheridan Le Fanu's 1872 novella, which has been filmed many times in the form of vampire movies full of blood and sex (as well as in this series), the original Carmilla doesn't even include the word "vampire" -- and it doesn't need to (although it does contain a gory nightmare scene). Moreover, it doesn't sensationalize the relationship between the two young women. By making Lara's world feel small and by adding small, sinister touches at the edge of the story, the movie achieves a great deal more than a more obvious approach might have.
Harris develops Lara cleverly, illustrating the ways in which she's retrained; Miss Fontaine literally straps her charge's arm to her back so that the left-hander will begin to favor her right. But the teen is also wickedly curious, stealing a strange medical book from her father's library and admiring decay in nature. (The movie occasionally cuts to close-ups of slugs or worms.) Carmilla, meanwhile, is ethereal and charismatic. Her connection with Lara not only feels natural but compulsory. Carmilla isn't perfect, though, as it includes problematic representation in the form of a Black maid who's marginalized within the story. While that type of character might have been accepted at one time, it's an irresponsible characterization now, especially in the absence of any context or commentary.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Carmilla's depiction of violence. How much is shown, and how much is implied? How did the use of blood in the movie affect you?
Is the movie scary? Why are scary movies appealing? What do people like about vampire stories?
How is sex depicted? What values are imparted?
How does the movie compare with the novella and/or previous filmed versions of it?
- On DVD or streaming: July 17, 2020
- Cast: Hannah Rae, Devrim Lingnau, Jessica Raine
- Director: Emily Harris
- Studio: Film Movement
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Book Characters, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: December 22, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Long-running gothic web series is fun, spooky, a bit edgy.
Let Me In
Vampire remake is much gorier than Twilight.
Let the Right One In
Swedish vampire tale is much grislier than Twilight.
Teen fans will love faithful -- if uneven -- adaptation.
Blood, innuendo in stylish, moody vampire tale.
For kids who love vampires and romance
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate