‘The Swarm’ is a French fantasy horror film that brings viewers uncomfortably close to the bizarre practices followed by a locust farmer. Virginie (Suliane Brahim) realizes that by feeding them blood, the locust colonies she harvests become larger and healthier. However, the consumption of viscera soon begins to have much more sinister effects on the insects, leading to some truly horrific consequences. A story simple in its approach but deep in its message, ‘The Swarm’ leaves us with a few knots to untangle. If you just can’t forget the images of the deadly swarms rising from the farm and are hungry for more, then you’re in the right place. Let’s take a closer look at the ending of ‘The Swarm.’ SPOILERS AHEAD.
The Swarm Plot Synopsis
The film opens with Virginie tending to her locusts, who seem to be weak and dying. She turns to online forums for help and is told to feed them more grass. We then find out that her farm, which makes high protein locust flour, is flagging due to its low output. When one of her regular buyers refuses to do business with her for the same reason, she turns to an old friend, Karim, for help. Karim is happy to loan the struggling locust harvester some money, and we learn that Virginie’s late husband helped him establish his business.
Virginie has 2 children who help her with the farm but who also have to make sacrifices for the failures of the business. Her teenage daughter, Laura, is especially frustrated because of the constant taunts she has to bear at school for being the daughter of a locust farmer, something her classmates find strange and disgusting. After toiling to increase her output, Virginie finally loses control when a duck farmer offers her a pittance for her stock.
Whilst attempting to break down her farm, she injures herself and finds the locusts strangely attracted to blood. Soon, the ones that consumed her blood turn bigger and more vigorous, leading the desperate farm owner to cut herself and feed more of her blood to the swarming insects. The results are immediate, and Virginie soon begins to expand her farm. She supplements her growing stock with the copious amounts of blood she orders from the farm bureau. However, when her blood supplier cuts her off, she has to revert to finding other sources to feed her locusts. Apart from her own blood, she also feeds them the neighbor’s dog and cattle from nearby farms.
Laura, who watches her mother’s changing demeanor with concern, cuts open the bags containing locusts in a fit of anger. The swarm that emerges is deadly and carries away the family’s pet goat. A few days later, when her younger brother Gaston is away at soccer camp, Laura sees her mother sitting in the locust enclosure, covered in insects while she feeds them from her arm and sobs through the pain. Disturbed, Laura asks Karim to come over at once.
The Swarm Ending: Does the Swarm Kill Virginie and Karim?
Karim takes mother and daughter to his house, but Virginie insists on going back to her farm. In her absence, her nosy neighbor goes into the locust enclosure looking for his dog but instead is set upon by the bloodthirsty insects. Upon dropping Laura and her mother at their house, Karim sneaks into the enclosure and is shocked to see the dead body. Realizing that something disturbing is happening, he promptly sets fire to all the enclosures on the farm, releasing a massive swarm of killer locusts.
Despite taking refuge in the house, Karim is soon set upon by the insects. Laura runs towards the nearby lake, with the swarm close behind. She takes refuge under a boat, which the locusts viciously attack. Just when she can hold them at bay no longer, Virginie appears on the shore of the lake and cuts herself, spreading the blood all over her face and arms. The swarm is attracted to her and envelopes her as Laura watches on, horrified. In the film’s closing scenes, a heavily shaken Virginie emerges from the lake, still covered in blood but free of the insects, and hugs her daughter.
Virginie’s fate hangs by a thread throughout the film’s climax, first as she attempts to put out the raging fire on her farm and later as she attempts to sacrifice herself to save her daughter. She survives the fire, but covering herself with blood to attract the swarm very nearly kills her. So far, every living being that the swarm has enveloped has met a truly nasty end, starting with the family goat and the neighbor’s dog to the old neighbor himself, and finally Karim. Unfortunately for Virginie’s loyal friend, the swarm of locusts breaks into the house where he is taking refuge and brutally picks off his flesh. We get a glimpse of his mangled body as Virginie runs through her house looking for Laura.
With mother and daughter hugging and finally free of the swarm, the closing scene tells us that the desperate locust harvester is very much alive. Despite covering herself with blood and being set upon by the vicious insects, she survives because of the lake she wades into. The locusts are unable to follow her into the water and drown, leaving her relatively unhurt. Therefore, though it seems like she is lost and not thinking clearly, Virginie actually makes some very timely use of her knowledge about locusts to save herself and her daughter. Karim, who earlier finds himself trapped in a room with the deadly swarm, dies because there is no opportunity for him to escape.
How is the Swarm Created?
Virginie’s dwindling locust colony that we see at the beginning of the film gets an immediate boost in numbers and vitality as soon as they begin to feed on her blood. When she wakes up from her injury, which is to her head, she notices the insects have actually made a deep cut on her arm to continue consuming her blood. Just this small amount of blood already makes them vicious and cannibalistic, as we soon see the blood-fed locusts eating their regular counterparts in Gaston’s tiny vivarium.
When Virginie then begins feeding them industrial quantities of blood, the locusts get all the more bloodthirsty. We see her take delivery of 30 liters of blood, which her bloodthirsty stock quickly finishes, after which the locusts begin to feed on live animals. Therefore, the swarm is created by the strange physical and behavioral changes that the locusts undergo soon after consuming blood. Their affinity to viscera is also hinted at in the beginning, when Gaston claims that one of his locusts ate up the wart on his finger. However, the young boy’s comments are not given any heed by his sister and mother at the time.
What Happens to the Swarm?
The swarm, it seems, is a short-lived entity and will likely die out soon enough. The first swarm that Laura releases carries away the pet goat and subsequently kills it. However, there is no further news of the locust menace, hinting that the swarm eventually died out without harming too many other creatures.
The second, bigger swarm that emerges after Karim sets fire to the farm is eventually vanquished by the lake and Virginie’s quick thinking. In an earlier scene, she mentions that locusts easily drown, which is why she feeds them jelly instead of just giving them water. This is also why she is seen turning the blood to jelly before letting the insects consume it.
In the film’s climax, the swarm follows the blood-covered Virginie into the lake and promptly drowns, leaving only a few locusts fluttering above the embracing mother and daughter. The insects, in general, also seem to have a relatively short life span, which means the remaining blood-thirsty locusts will not survive for long. Since the swarm’s destructive power lay in its overwhelming numbers, it seems like the deadly locust cloud is essentially finished. However, considering how easily it cropped up, this might not be the last time we see a swarm.
What Will Happen to Virginie’s Farm?
With all the locust enclosures burnt down by Karim, it looks like Virginie will finally give up the farm and move away. Though not detailed, it is hinted that the mother and her children have continued living on the farm due to sentimental reasons after the death of Virginie’s husband, who used to raise goats there. Virginie herself is not convinced of the business potential of locust flour, though she touts its importance as a source of protein multiple times.
With the horrific experience she and Laura have just undergone, it is unlikely that either of them will resume working with locusts and will probably sell the farm and move away. It is mentioned in passing that Virginie was a nurse before she took up locust farming, and Laura has been impatient to move away from the farm that she says “smells like death.” Therefore, the mother and her children are likely going to move away very soon. Their closest friend in the area, Karim, is also dead, making this outcome all the more certain.
Read More: Where Was The Swarm Filmed?