My past with Carmilla is sort of like a cliché romance trope. We’ve been in the same area, but missed each other again and again. Someone I follow on Tumblr kept posting about Carmilla, and I was like, “what’s this?” I never gave it the time of day though. Then recently for a lit class, I had to read a 19th century book with the same title about a girl who’s hunted down by a female vampire. After googling summaries of the book (for no reason), I rediscovered this web series and thought, “eh, I’ll give it a go.”
Carmilla is a Canadian web series about Laura, a Journalism major whose roommate disappears one night and is immediately replaced by the dark and moody Philosophy major named Carmilla. With the use of her vlog, Laura documents her life and struggles as she tries to find out why so many girls are going missing at her university.
The first season of Carmilla came out in 2014 and is made up of 36 episodes that span about two to five mins each. For this review I’m gonna talk about the first half of the first season (eps 1 – 18).
The Review (Spoilers Ahead):
The first half of season one is slow building, but eventually led to an ok show. For the first six episodes especially, I was dying. Granted, those episodes together made up maybe… 15 mins of my life, but watching them was pretty dull. It’s like watching syrup slowly drop down from the bottle to your plate. You just want it to get to the plate so you can dig in, but you’ve gotta wait for it to get there. Then when I got to the end of episode six there was a tonal shift. Things were suddenly exciting and I thought, “Ah, what’s happening? I don’t know, but I’m kinda into it!”
The vlog setup had the opposite path were it was at first interesting, but soon became awkward. Laura isn’t just recording about the mystery of the disappearing girls, but about intimate conversations and moments in her and Camilla’s everyday lives. It kind of takes me out of the story at times because I’m aware that some things a regular vlogger wouldn’t share.
In addition, the lesbian theme was introduced in episode 7 with subtle hints showing that Laura was attracted to her friend Danny. I love this because they don’t have to be all out and about with Laura’s sexuality. It just is, and that’s nice. (And yes I recognize the irony of me saying that with the big rainbow colored logo standing above this review, whatever).
As for the characters and their actors, I’m on the fence. The two main characters Laura and Carmilla, played by Elise Bauman and Natasha Negovanlis respectively, are the worst offenders. Sometimes their acting is interesting to watch, but most times their characters are written as heavy-handed and cliché with little help from the acting.
In addition, the plot is way more important than the characters at this point. Besides the fact that this story would fail the reverse Bechdel test, with there only being two guys who only ever talk about girls and partying with girls, most of the characters are underdeveloped. While I love that this show has such a large group of female characters who are all different, none of them are fleshed out. Not even Laura (though she gets brownie points in my mind for having a TARDIS mug).
The first half of season one of Carmilla the web series is a slow burner with only a slight taste of flavor. These first 18 episodes, which make up about two hours, are basically used to set up the plot. Character development is pushed to the back in order to keep the major plot going. My own opinion is that I don’t hate this series, but there’s nothing really to make me like it yet (besides the floor manager’s friend), but there is hope with the next 18 episodes.
This media gets 2 stars out of 5.
Where to watch: