Vampire politics


In The Vourdalak all the characters seem to be living with a curse.

Some suffer the malediction of their upper class background. Others also descended from a kind of familial nobility are afflicted with the evil eye of the supernatural.

Set in a period fantasy horror era a member of the Court of the King of France has been robbed and wanders desolate through spooky forests in the middle of Europe. Halfway through the film I realized that despite having no horse and certainly no suitcases or backpacks our tenuous hero had a pocket make-up kit that he uses to keep his face stage white all the time.

The story derives from an 1839 Russian novel and while I cannot be certain as to the exact years it plays out The Vourdalak has an authentic look and feel complete with stone cold castle floors and dense forests. If someone specifically mentions a king of France it’s not as easy to pinpoint a date as it would be to predict the year a similar story might unwind in America by referencing the President. Perhaps that goes a long way in explaining why European monsters of the night are the eternal undead while American horror tropes feature mask wearing boogeymen.

The Vourdalak also acknowledges class distinctions that are more common to Europe. Freshman filmmaker Adrien Beau nails the atmosphere necessary to make this genre shine.

Marquis d’Urfé merely seeks a horse and refuge and finds solace with landowners, the grandfather of whom has already turned into a googly-eyed vampire that’s more skeleton than flesh. d’Urfé slowly becomes the hero after you kind of hate him for his arrogant manner just because he’s the only member of the family not turning into something not human.

There’s a chilling reality to The Vourdalak emphasized by candles and realistic sets. It’s tempting to refer to the verisimilitude of Robert Eggers movies yet he’s only been making films for less than a decade. Maybe beyond the grasp of the average contempo horror film-goer are the definite Carl Dreyer and Ingmar Bergman influences.

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