Monday, August 3, 2020

Carmilla Review: An Unconventional Atmospheric Gothic Love Story

Release date: October 7, 2019 (Digital July 17, 2020)
Running time: 94 minutes
Starring: Hannah Rae, Devrim Lingnau, Jessica Raine

Carmilla is an atmospheric, coming-of-age love story steeped in eerie mystery and inspired by the gothic novel of the same name.  There is a lot more than meets the eye in this movie, when a mysterious stranger (Lingnau), later known as Carmilla ends up at the house of a well to do family.  Their daughter Lara (Rae) quickly takes a shining to Carmilla, but their friendship is looked on disapprovingly by Lara's mother (Raine) due to some of Carmilla's quirkier habits. 

Carmilla is a very beautiful movie.  The cinematgraphy is breathtaking at times, with an amazing shot choice and wonderful lighting of this gothic drama.  Beautiful shots highlight important parts of the scene but also let you really take in everything this world has to offer.  There scenes are thoughtfully put together and the director has an eye for the little details.  The sets and costumes are meticulously crafted to look period authentic, from the clothes to the tools to the jewelry, everything looks wonderful and like it belongs in this world.  And the world is filled with some very good characters.  Lara is fantastic as a shy young lady who is trying to grow into her own.  She has many interests that might not be conventional, and is unfortunately stuck in the wrong time and place.  Carmilla has an other worldly quality to her, one that is instantly striking and makes her stand out from the other characters in this world.  And Miss Fontaine (Raine) is believable as a conflicted woman who is torn between her daughter's happiness and her own beliefs of right and wrong.

And one thing that is instantly noticeable about this world is the stunning soundtrack.  There are accents at just the right times and moving melodic pieces when needed.  And the sound effects themselves really evoke a lived in world, giving weight to the actions of the characters and many of the animals that are seen throughout the film.  The story itself is slow burning but I did not mind that aspect.  It really gives time for the characters and the world to develop before your eyes.  However, it does feel like there is a ton of development of the characters only for the film to then barrel to a conclusion.  I really wish the film had spent a little more time in its resolution and allowed the story to play out more.  I was actually fine with the ending, it just felt like it got there very quickly after such a wonderfully slow development.  

Carmilla is a beautiful piece of cinema, with fantastic cinematography, a moving, weighty soundtrack, and interesting, conflicted characters. 

Watch it.
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