The Film (4/5)
A drifter named Carmilla (Christen Orr) arrives in town searching for her long lost mother. At her mother's last known address, she meets Laura (Hannah Fierman, V/H/S) and her father Troy (William Katt, Carrie, House, The Greatest American Hero.) Soon Carmilla strikes up a relationship with Laura, much to the chagrin of Troy, and slowly start to unravel the mystery of what exactly happened to both of their mothers and what dark secrets both shared.
Bret Wood's The Unwanted is a modern updating of Sheridan LeFanu's Carmilla with a Southern flavor. Suspense builds, in perhaps a way that would seem counterproductive but isn't, by wondering how exactly the filmmakers are going to turn this story INTO Carmilla. The leads are good with Christen Orr's Carmilla being a tough girl and Hannah Fierman's Laura being a trusting, wide-eyed young lady while William Katt's Troy lends a mix of caring with world weariness, and it's these three that carry the majority of the film. Flashback scenes are slowly doled out between Carmilla's mother Millarca (Kylie Brown) and Laura's mother Karen (Lynn Talley) that begin to form a picture of what happened. Added to that are Troy explaining his side to Laura and when the two stories meet we get a very satisfying answer. When you think you've got the film figured out, director/screenwriter Wood throws you a curveball and the film sticks with you long after it ends.
Kino presents The Unwanted in a 1:78:1 picture with a 2.0 audio track. It looked very good to this reviewer and the dialogue was crisp while the soundtrack was nice and loud. No subtitles.
The Unwanted Blu-ray extras include: theatrical trailers, deleted scenes, a making of documentary, and a short film from the director, The Other Half (2008, 17 minutes.)
I didn't want to give away too much in my short synopsis above. I think it's best to go into The Unwanted as cold as you can. If you're a fan of the Carmilla story or any of it's film adaptations from Roger Vadim's Blood And Roses to Hammer's The Vampire Lovers to Jean Rollin's phantasmagoric lesbian vampire offerings, then I think you should give Bret Wood's modern spin a go. It's primarily drama, with a mystery component, but in the end there's plenty for a horror fan to enjoy. I look forward to seeing what else Mr. Wood does going forward.