The Vourdalak: A Darkly Comic Vampire Tale

The Vourdalak

The Vourdalak (French: Le Vourdalak) is a 2023 French horror-drama film co-written and directed by Adrien Beau. Lost in a hostile forest, the Marquis d’Urfé, a noble emissary of the King of France, finds refuge in the home of a strange family.

Release date: 25 October 2023 (France)

Director: Adrien Beau

Music by: Maïa Xifaras; Martin Le Nouve

The Vourdalak, A Horror Movie Review by Hope Madden

There is nothing in this world that obedience and patriarchy cannot undo.

I just watched the maddest film about vampires. Adrien Beau’s The Vourdalak, based on Tolstoy’s 19th-century tale that inspired Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath. In Beau’s hands, a darkly comic sensibility wraps around themes of oppression—classism, sexism, homophobia—to charge the old vampire lore with something wizened and weary about who becomes victims and why.

Fancy pants Marquis Jacques Antoine Saturnin d’Urfé (played by Kacey Mottet Klein, the picture of entitled cowardice in his powdered wig and pointy shoes. A nobleman from the court of the King of Franc, finds himself lost in a formidable wood somewhere out Serbia way. Marauding Turks have murdered his host. And his only hope is that the family in this rustic little farmhouse can offer him aid.

The Vourdalak
The Vourdalak

Klein’s comic delivery meets deadpan reaction from Ariane Labed (The Lobster, Flux Gourmet) playing the host’s lovely if melancholic daughter, Sdenka. The performances create a fascinating pairing, Klein instinctively enriching his character arc with their onscreen chemistry.

Vassili Schneider injects the film with aching tenderness. That gives the horror a powerful sadness, even though there’s no denying The Vourdalak’s comedic sensibility.

Beau’s film delivers stagy fun that’s utterly hypnotic, using dance, melodrama, even  puppets as well as more traditional genre imagery to spin a bizarre and captivating horror.

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Author

  • Hope Madden

    ope Madden, a graduate of The Ohio State University, is an author and filmmaker.In addition to 12 years at the independent weekly newspaper The Other Paper, Hope has written for Columbus Monthly Magazine, The Ohio State University Alumni Magazine, and is a published poet. Her first novel, Roost, is out now, as is the anthology Incubate, which includes her short story “Aggrieved.” She recently wrote and directed Obstacle Corpse, the first feature film from MaddWolf Productions! She also writes for Columbus Underground and the UK Film Review.In Central Ohio, you can catch Hope on TV every Friday morning on ABC6/Fox28’s Good Day Columbus.

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