The Vourdalak: A Haunting Vampire Tale Disguised as Black Comedy

Adrien Beau’s Gothic vampire comedy The Vourdalak was released in the US on June 28th and I was lucky enough to grab a screener for review.

If you follow Moviehooker, you’ll already know about The Vourdalak – we have been looking forward to this one for some time. 

A new gothic vampire comedy co-written and the directorial debut from Adrien Beau. And, yes, while The Vourdalak is labelled as a comedy, the story is anything but funny…it’s fuckin’ terrifying!

After his group is ambushed, Marquis Jacques Antoine Saturnin d’Urfé, an emissary of the King of France is left all alone, stranded with no one to turn to or nowhere to go. Eventually, he is told to make his way to Gorcha’s house for help – he’s not to stop no matter what until he reaches his destination. When he arrives, he is met with his family who inform the king’s servant that Gorcha has left for battle leaving nothing but a note to inform them of his departure for bloody revenge against the Turks. The note reads:

Wait six days for me. If, after those six days, I have not returned, say a prayer in memory of me, for I shall have been killed in battle. But if ever, and may God preserve you, I were to return after six days have passed, I enjoin you to forget that I was your father and to refuse me entry whatever I may say or do — for then I shall be no more than an accursed vourdalak.”

When 6 pm arrives, the family say a prayer in acceptance of their father’s death. At 6.01 pm Gorcha appears – a cursed Vourdalak.

The Vourdalak is a special kind of horror. Shot wonderfully with beautiful locations, using trippy colours sucking you into an almost psychedelic nightmare. Also, great acting (especially from our lead (Kacey Mottet Klein), superb costume design, sound design, creature design as well what seemed like a accurately placed harpsichord-inspired OST.

Beau decided to keep things old school with The Vourdalak. Rather than using prosthetics or CGI, Beau’s vampire looks to be a blend of puppetry or stop motion (with Beau voicing as well) and it works so well. It’s like nothing you’ve seen in a vampire/monster movie in a very long, long time. I admit, that it caught me off-guard at first but in no time at all, I accepted this approach, sat back and enjoyed a truly unique viewing experience. It’s old-school horror with a new wave flare!

The Vourdalak is a vampire born from Slavic folklore and this was the most interesting aspect of this mythos. Unlike regular vampires, who just wanna suck the blood out of anyone who crosses their path, this vampire targets its loved ones – the closest living things to them “Even Love is cursed in these parts” as we hear the son, Piotr tell Marquis. This vampire weaponises a family’s love and grief to take control and feed off.

Based on the gothic novella, The Family of the Vourdalak written by Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy in 1839, predating Bram Stoker’s Dracula by decades.

For those of you complaining that there is no originality left in cinema then think again! Beau takes an oversaturated concept and bleeds new life into it. A tragic horror film disguised as a comedy. A remarkable cinematic achievement and one Hell of a directorial debut.

Final Score – 9/10 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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