Joseph’s Review: Vurdalak Blood (Fantaspoa 2021)

★★★★ out of ★★★★★

The vurdalak legend finds new blood in this exciting, top-notch chiller.

Directed by Santiago Fernández Calvete

Most horror film fans are mainly aware of the vampire-variant vurdalak creature from Mario Bava’s portmanteau film Black Sabbath (Italy, 1963) and Leo Tolstoy’s 1839 novella The Family of the Vourdalak. Writer/director Santiago Fernández Calvete’s superb new feature Vurdalak Blood (Sangre Vurdalak, Argentina/Singapore, 2020) deserves to become as well known as those two predecessors. 

ATMOSfx! Woo!

Natalia (Alfonsina Carrocio) lives with her controlling father Aguirre (Germán Palacios), her older brother Manuel (Lautaro Bettoni) and his wife Eva (Naiara Awada), and their young daughter. Aguirre forbids Natalia to see anyone, have any friends, and leave the family’s rural property. When she sneaks off one night to meet her potential boyfriend Alexis (Tomás Carullo Luzzio), she accepts a ride home from a man claiming to be a relative. Naturally, this does not turn out well, and she and Alexis flee to her home. Aguirre goes out looking for the stranger, rifle in tow, and tells the others not to let him in the house unless he returns home in the sunlight because of the vurdalak curse — a vurdalak feeds on the blood of family members, turning them into vurdalaks, as well — no matter what he says. He returns before sunrise, and the family members and Alexis find themselves at odds as to whether Aguirre has returned as a human or an undead monster, and what to do about the situation.

Calvete directs masterfully and elevates the proceedings from an initial sense of unease to constant dread to mounting terror. He builds suspense and tension marvelously while escalating the family drama. 

The ensemble cast is rock solid, with Carrocio outstanding as an alternately scared, outraged, and brave young woman who is initially ready to escape and take chances on her own life but unwilling to give up easily on the lives of loved ones. Palacios is also impressive as the gruff, stubborn patriarch of the family.

Vurdalak Blood screened as part of Fantaspoa 2021, which ran in Brazil on the streaming platform Darkflix from April 9–18, 2021.

Review by Joseph Perry

Categories: Festivals, ReviewsTags: ,