By Joanna Wagner
LGBT Perspectives TV & Movie Critic
SAN FRANCISCO — What would you get if you mixed Carmilla, added a dash of Lost Souls and then had David Lynch (Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet) produce it? Something like The Unwanted (2014). The film by no means uses the same sequence of events as the book, but most of the important events of the book do happen. Is this lesbian love thwarted by a vengeful man? Or is it lesbian vampires? You decide. It has elements of mystery, a thriller and horror.
First, let’s change the setting. Leave the Austrian castle behind and replace it with Southern Gothic. Think Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte. It begins with a young woman entering a small, southern town after getting off the Greyhound. Her name is Carmilla Karnstein (Christen Orr). She is in search of her mother, Mircalla (Kylie Brown), who disappeared long ago. Her last known address was a remote farmhouse currently occupied by young Laura (Hannah Fierman) and her widowed father, Troy (William Katt). While searching for the truth, Carmilla takes up residence in an Airstream trailer located at the edge of the farm.
Running parallel to the story of Laura and Carmilla is the story of their mothers, Mircalla and Karen (Lynne Talley), told through changing and deepening narratives, the truth in a police report replacing the lies told by the father. We get deeper and deeper into this world of woman on woman romance and an angry, vengeful patriarch.
This is not your typical vampire story. You may wonder if it’s a vampire story at all, although the story arc is similar to the novella on which it’s based.
The sets and lighting are great as are the performances of the principle actors. A very clever production, made with a very low budget. The pacing is slow, like a hot summer day in Mississippi. If you’re up for an art house vampire movie, check this one out. If you know the original book, you’ll like it even more!
“You are mine, you shall be mine and you and I are one forever!” – Carmilla
The Unwanted is streaming on Netflix.