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Sheridan Le Fanu's “Carmilla”

13 Aug 2020 4:48 PM | Keith Marrocco (Administrator)

The next great Queen's Film Society/A&M Film Studies Program Cinema Chat will focus on the new version of that grandmother of female vampire tales, Sheridan Le Fanu's “Carmilla.” This 2020 release (straight to virtual cinemas do to the COVID pandemic) is the first directed by a woman and the closest to the original tale. Watch the trailer here:

The "Times Literary Supplement" says: "Like Le Fanu, [Director Emily] Harris’s keen sense for Gothic atmosphere is both sumptuous and menacing, often relying on the power of suggestion to build the tension around Carmilla’s true identity and purpose. Her use of gauzy, almost impressionist, light is particularly effective, imbuing the film with a diffuse and watery texture, as is the distinctive colour palette, which trades between daytime pastels and washed-out earth tones and a candelit tenebrism that evokes Derek Jarman’s and Peter Greenaway’s period films "Caravaggio" and "Nightwatching" and Lucile Hadžihalilović’s "Innocence." Additionally, the pointillist sound design accentuates each movement and gesture onscreen, from the scurry of bugs to the buttering of toast, conveying something of Lara’s spine-shivering perspective as she recognizes in Carmilla her own unquenchable desires. The result is an adaptation less about the horrors of the unknown and more about the supernatural pleasures of love and sexuality – and the threat that such passions pose to the domestic and social order. Harris’s "Carmilla" is perhaps one of the most febrile, inventive and truest in spirit to Le Fanu’s original story, while it avoids the baroque clichés that have persistently separated the vampire subgenre from its Romantic roots. (To the director’s further credit, it should also be noted that the film was a largely female-driven project, from its women producers, mostly female cast and heads of department.) Her Carmilla is neither a succubus nor a sex kitten, but a spirited young woman whose embodiment of nature and sapphic desire makes her into a queer feminist, and, thus, a monster to be villainized and othered in the eyes of the patriarchy. "

Our discussion will be led by film scholar Andy Owens (University of Iowa), expert on queer horror and author of the forthcoming book, "Desire After Dark: Contemporary Queer Cultures and Occultly Marvelous Media" (Indiana University Press, 2021). He will be joining us on Zoom on August 12 at 7PM CDT at the following link:

Meeting ID: 928 2810 6483

Password: QFS


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+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)

To watch the film, visit:

Check out our other new option, The Killing Floor, which we plan to discuss in a future meeting.

They’re great!

Rent Carmilla

Rent The Killing Floor

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