A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
No real messages here, other than battle between being responsible vs. following your passions, no matter how reckless. A price is paid for recklessness, even though the responsible path, by contrast, seems pretty dull.
Positive Role Models
The central relationship is passionate but ill-fated; one partner is literally draining the life from the other, and both suffer for it. Problematic representation in the form of a Black maid, who's marginalized in the story. She has very few lines of dialogue and is mostly there to serve the White characters.
Violence & Scariness
Nightmare sequence shows a body sawed in half, with lots of blood. Hammering sounds, blood spatters; stake driven through heart (off-screen). Dead body impaled by large stick. Teen girl beaten with stick. Whacking palm with a ruler as punishment. Burning hand in candle. Cutting hands on thorn, sharp objects; blood shown. Kissing with blood on lips. Dead bird. Unusual drawings in medical book; they appear to be various surgical procedures. Eerie book with evil-looking drawings. Crashed carriage. Character hyperventilates and passes out. Unpleasant close-ups of worms and slugs. Sudden loud noises.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters kiss and have sex up against a wall, with their clothes on. Teen gets out of water, naked, her bottom showing. Teens kiss passionately in several scenes, sometimes with blood on their lips. One straddles the other, but they're interrupted.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
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.