‘The Vourdalak’ Ending Explained & Movie Review: Does Jacques Save Sdenka?

A patriarch turns into a vampire and starts gorging on his own family; this is how The Vourdalak can be described badly. Of course, French director Adrien Beau’s debut horror feature is much more than that. The oddly comical horror drama, based on Russian author A.K. Tolstoy’s macabre novella “The Family of the Vourdalak,” is simultaneously gripping and unsettling from start to finish. It has an unmistakable fairytale vibe, albeit of the dark kind. We’re going to dissect the vampire horror in this article and look into its cathartic ending.


Spoilers Ahead

What Happens in the Movie?

After losing his escort and everything he had thanks to a sudden attack in the French countryside, King’s envoy Marquis Jacques Antoine Saturnin d’Urfe is desperate to find refuge. He’s fortunate enough to find one in a house owned by one old Gorcha. He doesn’t meet the man right away, but the family members—Gorcha’s sons Jegor and Piotr, daughter Sdenka, Jegor’s wife Anja, and son Vlad—are welcoming enough. Apparently, Gorcha has gone away to fight the Turks. Jegor had also gone to fight them, as he mentions someone called Alibek, who’s supposed to be their number one enemy. Jegor is also mad at the other family members for letting the old and frail Gorcha get out of the house. Compared to Jegor, who seems to have a lot of alpha energy, Piotr is a soft, sensitive man. Sdenka, on the other hand, is mostly aloof and seems to be living in her own world. Anja is not too fond of her sister-in-law, which has a lot to do with Sdenka never having gotten married thanks to a tragic past romance with an outsider. Jacques, however, takes an interest in Sdenka. He is pretty much smitten by her, although she doesn’t seem to reciprocate. Sdenka does talk about her past in detail, though. She was in love with this man, Jovan. The two planned to elope until he tragically died (presumably in a battle, as she mentions a gunshot). That’s where she abandoned all her dreams of getting outside, and she has been living like this ever since. 


Is Gorcha a Vourdalak?

“Vourdalak” means vampire in Russian, and it’s only fitting that Gorcha is one. And the film reveals this in the most ridiculous possible manner to Jacques—when Gorcha finally returns during the feast (which is arranged in his honor only). Jacques can’t believe what he’s just seen, which is only understandable. I mean, even by fantasy standards, you don’t quite see a very reanimated corpse-looking vampire casually sitting at the table. The family around him is understandably stiff, except Jegor, who’s acting like nothing happened. Of course, Jegor is in denial about his father’s current situation. Why else would a man endanger the safety of his own family? Gorcha is no friendly “What We Do in the Shadows” vampire either. He makes it pretty clear by arriving at the scene with Alibek’s severed head, which he puts on the table. Then he orders Piotr to shut his dog up because the barking is bothering him. Piotr has no choice but to follow his father’s orders and shoot his beloved animal. Gorcha is nothing but nice to the esteemed guest, though; he apologizes for the delay in finding Jacques the horse, which would help him continue the journey further. Jacques is still dumbstruck and can’t believe what’s happening. 

Does Vlad get eaten by his grandfather? 

A Vourdalak particularly preys on the ones they love, so it’s only natural for Gorcha to feed on his grandson, Vlad. It doesn’t happen right away, as Gorcha teases it by giving everyone a nightmare about it. The film doesn’t explicitly say it, but I take it that both Jacques and Anja having the same nightmare about the house vampire is a sign of something supernatural cooking. Jacques appears to genuinely care about this doomed family, and he tries his best to save Vlad from the Vourdalak. Along with Piotr, Anja, and Sdenka, he tries performing a ritual on Vlad, but Jegor cuts it short by interrupting in the middle. He still doesn’t want to believe that his dear father is a hungry vampire. That night, Jacques tries his best to save Vlad from Gorcha, but he obviously doesn’t possess the ability to do so. This is a film that has zero remorse for showing a little boy getting pretty much munched by his vampire grandfather in one of the goriest scenes of the year. I thought it was a courageous move, even though it might bother some of you.


Does Jacques save Sdenka?

In the midst of all the terribly crazy things, The Vourdalak also tells a love story. It is, of course, one-sided, as Sdenka never really warms up to Jacques’ feelings. But that doesn’t stop him from trying to help her get out of the whole situation. That obviously comes from a place of selfless love. It also makes sense that Sdenka, out of all the characters, actually survives. With their child gone, Anja and Jegor are doomed. And Piotr unfortunately doesn’t have the courage to put a stake in his father, so he doesn’t have much hope either. Sdenka, on the other hand, doesn’t actively do anything, but she does intend to get out of this hell she’s in. 

We don’t know much about Jacques’ backstory, but from what we see in the movie, the king’s envoy appears to be a really good person. Despite having a proper chance to get away with the horse (Jegor did find one, keeping his promise), he comes back to save Sdenka. Sadly for him, Vourdalak is waiting in disguise (as Sdenka) to trick him and kill him. Jacques may be a good person, but he’s not smart enough to realize there must be something off upon seeing Sdenka make sexual advances to him. Also, we have to consider the eerily stressful situation he’s in and what he feels for her. However, the moment he made the decision to come back, I believe he knew that there was every chance of him not surviving. What the Vourdalak does to him is still heartbreaking and also horrifying, if you know what I mean. But to his credit, Jacques does manage to kill the Vourdalak by putting the stake through his heart. Meanwhile, Sdenka is about to kill herself by jumping off from the cliff.  Jacques goes there to stop her from committing suicide and also convince her to follow her dream. Once he does that, he has no trouble jumping off the same cliff. With what the Vourdalak had done to him, there was no chance of him surviving. But at least he manages to give Sdenka her freedom and gets to die knowing she will probably get to see the world.


Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra likes to talk about movies, music, photography, food, and football. He has a government job to get by, but all those other things are what keep him going.

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