Modern Takes on the Vampire Classic, Carmilla (Part Two)

Last week, I reviewed a modern illustrated edition of the vampire classic, Carmilla. As you can see from my last post, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story of a teenage girl who discovers her friendly new houseguest may not be as innocent as she looks. However, if reading books from the 1870s still isn’t your thing, even after it’s been disguised as a modern paranormal romance—or if you’re just a huge fan of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and love seeing classic texts brought to life in front of the webcam—then I definitely suggest that you check out the Carmilla web series.

Carmilla Web Series

I just discovered this web series a few months ago, and I can’t believe I’ve never heard of it before! Consisting of approximately five-minute long episodes and produced by the feminine hygiene brand, U by Kotex, the series debuted last summer on Vervegirl TV’s Youtube channel. Since then two full seasons have become available for viewing on Youtube. The final season, Season Zero, began airing at the end of last month. Check out the first video above, but beware, you’ll get hooked!

The plot of the web series diverges significantly from the book, but there are many homages and fun allusions for the astute viewer to catch. This version of Carmilla’s tale is set on a college campus—a fitting setting for a modern 19 year old. Laura starts a webcam series as part of a class assignment, but soon uses the project to help solve the various mysteries on campus. First, her old roommate has suddenly disappeared, and Laura has been saddled with a goth-y and abrasive new roommate named Carmilla. More girls start disappearing or acting bizarre, and Laura bands together with a group of friends to find out what’s up with the weird girl in her room and what connection Carmilla has to the strange happenings on campus.

Many of the other college students are named after characters from the original novella, though they play significantly different roles in this incarnation. Two of Laura’s new friends are her hallmates LaFontaine and Lola Perry—modeled after her finishing instructor and governess in the book. Unlike their literary counterparts, however, all three women are seriously proactive in solving the mysteries around them and meeting challenges head on. Laura’s father, though prominent in Le Fanu’s version, is only alluded to in the web series. A number of new characters are added for the web series including Danny, Laura’s love interest in Season One—continuing more overtly the theme of lesbianism that has been the subject of much discussion about the novella. The web version takes this theme a step farther by exploring a number of different sexualities and identities within the series.

Carmilla series poster
Promo poster from the Carmilla Series facebook page

Of course, if the web series had stayed true to the original plot trajectory of the novella, it would be a very short web series indeed. Instead, the series explores a significant plot point left unexplained in the book—who is Carmilla’s mother? This question takes the series in a whole new direction and opens up the possibilities of multiple vampires and infinite plot potential.

I’ve only watched Season One so far, but let me tell you, I am hooked. The show is well cast and extremely entertaining, and the short bite-sized episodes will have you sitting in front of your computer for hours going, “I’ll just watch one more.” I started watching the series before I read the book, so I can say from experience that it can definitely be enjoyed by someone unfamiliar with the source material. I strongly recommend this series for both readers and non-readers of gothic fiction alike.

Have you read Carmilla? Are you a fan of the web series? Do you know of any other versions of this story I should check out? Let me know in the comments.

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