Go here to access the all of the episodes of the Carmilla series.
Carmilla is an ongoing 2014 web series that is a modern rendition of the Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s gothic novella, Carmilla. Premiering August 14, 2014, the web series is published to YouTube once a week onto the VerveGirlMagazine YouTube Channel called VerveGirlTV. The series is a set up as video diaries of Laura Hollis, a journalism student, to report the investigation of missing students and the potential involvement of her roommate, Carmilla. It is a modern day version of the gothic novella. The series is directed by Spencer Maybee, written by Joran Hall and filmed in Canada. This series is a multi-platform online experience with character twitter pages as well as a Tumbler and Instagram. The book series Silas Confidential is based upon this series. The most recent episode aired December 2, 2014.
Laura Hollis is continuing her education in Journalism at Silas University located in Styria. After a fun night of partying, Laura awakes to find her roommate, Betty Spielsdorf, missing and a generic note telling her that Betty has left the university. That following afternoon, Laura is introduced to her new brooding mysterious roommate, Carmilla. Laura has an uneasy feeling about the situation and begins to journalize her experience through web videos. She teams up with her English TA Danny Lawerence, and the Resident Advisors, S. LaFontaine and Lola Perry, to discover information on Carmilla and the other missing girls around campus.
As their investigation begins, Laura becomes quickly annoyed with Carmilla. Her living style and inability to feel compassion over the situation disgust Laura. She gets annoyed to a point where Laura starts to mess with Carmilla’s possessions and discovers that Carmilla keeps blood in her Soy Milk container. Laura begins her investigation by questioning the girls who have mysteriously returned discovering their fear and anxiety from the situation. She discovers that each of the girls experienced weird supernatural dreams with cats and lizards prowling around their bed as well as a screaming girl, and rooms filling with blood.
As the investigation continues, it becomes more evident that Danny and Laura are potentially developing a relationship. It becomes dangerous for Laura to post this web series, and the Dean threatens suspension to the student who continues this series. At this point in the narrative, a fraternity, nicknamed Zeta, have vowed to protect any female on campus rates 7.5 or higher. and Kirsch has volunteered to protect Laura. Shortly after the threat, Laura and Danny realize that all of the girls attended parties before they disappeared. Danny goes and questions the Alchemy club and discovers that they have been gathering photographic research of all the parties. While the duo looks at the photos, they find that Carmilla has attended and lurked around each of the missing girls.
The group decides to place Carmilla under surveillance. The realize her weird habits of sleeping during the day, as well providing footage of her emptying a blood bag into the Soy Milk container. Laura begins to start having dreams of cats and lizards attempting to penetrate her. She rides them off as nothing but PTSD from the situation. Laura finally gets tired of Carmilla that she attempts to go to the Dean of Students. She and LaFontaine sneak into a facility party and find a picture of some of the girls from the 1940s and one of those girls resembles Carmilla. While researching more information about the picture in the library, flying books attack Laura and La Fontaine. Before they escaped, the girls found information finding a line of girls, appearing every 20 years, who looked like Carmilla having different names, all anagrams of Carmilla.
When Laura presents this information to the group, a conclusion is made that Carmilla is a vampire. Against Danny’s wishes, Laura decided to use herself as bait to capture Carmilla. After tricking Carmilla into going to a party, the group, with the help of Zetas, capture Carmilla. They keep her tied up, uses garlic to subdue her, and place her on a starvation diet to get the truth from Carmilla. Laura stands watch and eventually caves. Carmilla then tells her story.
Carmilla tells Laura that she was murdered at a ball and her Mother raised her and showed her the world of the undead. Every 20 years, they would return to Styria and perform a ritual where the girls disappeared. Carmilla would befriend the girls, after pretending to be sick, and gain their trust. Then she would bring them to her mother. She never learned what happened to the girls. Eventually Carmilla met a girl name Ell and fell in love. When she tried to stop her Mother, Carmilla was trapped in a blood crypt. For centuries she was trapped until World War II, when the crypt was blown apart and she was able to reenter the world. Her mother found her in Paris in the 50s and has been using her for her bidding ever since.
At this point, Carmilla is rescued by a fellow vampire masquerading as a Zeta. However, She bites Laura and attempts to gain strength to defeat him. It is at this moment where Carmilla attempts to protect Laura and it is evident that Laura begins to develop feelings for Carmilla. Laura and LaFontaine return to the Library and discover that a soul is trapped in the Library catalog. The soul, JP Armetos, has been attempting to help students and sent Laura and LaFontaine to a Sumarian book that will help to find information on Carmilla’s Mother’s plan. Laura’s dreams become more violent and this time sees Ell talking to her and tell her to stay away from the light. Shortly after, LaFontaine goes missing. Perry is shaken up and attempts to do her own video diary. Laura and Carmilla discover, when blood is accidentally poured on the book, about the demon the vampire cult is sacrificing five virgins to the ancient evil called Lophiiformes. This evil is a light that devours the souls of the girls by pulling them towards the light. They realize that Ell is tin the light an is attempting to talk with them. It is at this moment that LaFontaine returns and we realize that she has been chosen to be a sacrifice.
The series is still continuing and a conclusion will be coming soon.
Themes and Motifs
Sexuality and Lesbianism
Like most Vampire narratives, this adaptation of Carmilla continues on this idea of the sexualized vampire. The girls all have dreams of penetration of the heart via black cats and lizards before they are kidnapped. In episode 15, LaFontaine says that Carmilla has, “seduction eyes” where Dani becomes defensive. Carmilla becomes highly sexualized through her eyes.
Lesbianism was hinted at the throughout the La Fanu text. In this adaptation, there is a strong sense that all of the strong female leads are lesbians. Laura is in the middle of a love triangle with Danny and Carmilla. Carmilla has had previous relationships. Perry and LaFontaine are best friends but there is a distinct possibility that they are in a relationship as well.
Virginity becomes a strong motif in this series. In order for Mother to complete the ritual, she must collect five virgins. The pureness of the virgins is reflected in the neutral color pallet of Laura’s clothes.
Secrecy and Investigation
In this series, secrecy controls the plot. Carmilla lives this secret life style and doesn’t tell the truth until forced. The disappearances of the girls are kept under wraps. Mother even hides secrets from Carmilla about the ritual, and the situations she puts the girls under. Because of these secrets, the investigation narrative starts here. Laura finds a need to discover those secrets. The series is introduced through web journals for Laura’s journalism class. She feels the need to let people know what is happening. The secrecy theme does reflect the secretive Carmilla from Le Fanu’s narrative.
The supernatural floods this web series. Vampires run Silas University. There is a secret library that appears at night. It had flying books and a man trapped in the book catalog. The girls all have dreams before they are taken of black cats trying to penetrate them, blood filling rooms, as well as girls coming and speaking to them. The Alchemy club causes havoc around the school with their over grown fungus and multiple party mishaps. And a cult performs a ritual to an ancient evil. However, no one at the school seems surprised by any of the supernatural events happening in the school. Students accept the supernatural events like they happen every day.
Blood is one of the symbols that not only powers the vampire’s in this series, it inhibits them as well. Carmilla is trapped in a blood tomb. She is there to spend the remainder of her days stuck in the crypt trapped by the blood.
Importance of the Series
This series demonstrates a new take on the Carmilla narrative. It is not a direct adaptation, but is an adaptation ser in a modern world and keeps the themes of secrecy, supernatural, and sexualty as major themes. It takes the ambiguous elements of the original text and creates a story and plot for it. Carmilla's gang, that leaves her with Laura's family from the original narrative, now have a purpose in this new adaptation. They are involved with ancient magic and ritual and are plugged into the society whatever they can.
This adaptation also takes the character of Laura and places her as a strong female heroine. She investigates the missing girls, as well as makes life threatening decisions. She is constantly aware of her weaknesses and finds ways around them. She does fit some of the character traits of the original, however, this Laura is strong and independent.
The character of Carmilla changes as well. Her back story involves the plot of original narrative. She uses it as her tragic back story and becomes an anti hero. She is being manipulated by Mother and cannot escape. At this point in the narrative, Carmilla is attempting to protect Laura from her mother and the ritual. She wants to help Laura stop her mother and avenge her ex-lover’s death. Carmilla doesn’t feed off of Laura but off of blood from blood banks, and doesn’t want to hurt people. Carmilla is created to be a weaker character and at this point in the series is becoming a stronger lead as well.
Reference to Other Texts and Adaptations
In this series, Carmilla is punished and trapped in a blood tomb. She escapes when bombs blast the tomb apart during WWII. This reflects the 1960 Roger Vadim film Blood and Roses where Carmilla is possessed by the older spirit of the vampire from the blasted catacomb.
There are constant references to Bram Stoker’s Dracula during this web series. Laura compares the transformation of the missing girls from valedictorians to party girls as “pulling a Lucy Westenra”. The series shows a research montage, using Dracula to gain research on how to defeat vampires. Laura also compares herself to Mina and Carmilla to Dracula. She asks herself the question, “What Would Mina Harker Do?” This comparison creates Laura to be a stronger feminine heroine than in the original text.