The Vigil – USA, 2019 – reviews

The Vigil is a 2019 American supernatural horror feature film about a man providing overnight watch to a deceased member of his former Orthodox Jewish community who finds himself opposite a malevolent entity.

Written and directed by Keith Thomas, the BoulderLight Pictures production stars Dave Davis, Menashe Lustig, Hershy Fishman, Malky Goldman and Dun Laskey.

Plot:

In the Hasidic community of Boro Park, Brooklyn, a despondent young man, short on both faith and funds, reluctantly agrees to assume the responsibility of an overnight shimmer and fulfil the Jewish practice of watching over the body of a deceased member of the Orthodox community.

With only the company of the recently departed and an ailing widow who expresses cryptic reservations as to the man’s ability to carry out the task, he soon finds himself exposed to a terrifying haunting within the claustrophobic confines of a home that has become host to a dybbuk, a malevolent entity…

Reviews:

The Vigil doesn’t exactly break the mould of demonic spirit films, though its sound design, lighting and lead performance certainly make it a solid entry. As an alternative to standard (and stale) Catholic religious horror, however, this feels like a breath of fresh air.” Joe Lipsett, Bloody Disgusting

“With an intricate soundscape and a slow build into the grimly hallucinogenic, Thomas crafts a film at home next to James Wan’s ghostly features but with more resonant emotional depth. Along with Davis’ anxious fragility as Yakov, the film becomes more personally felt as the horrors intensify, thrusting us into Yakov’s temporal experience.” Chris Feil, The Film Experience

“Thomas keeps the tension high throughout most of the movie, even if some of his scare tactics can feel redundant […] The director also turns the sound mix up extra high to induce maximum goosebumps, but the result can give you a slight headache. What works better is how Thomas transforms Orthodox culture into gory material for a slightly elevated horror flick…” Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter

” …the movie provides a remarkable showcase for Davis, who commands every scene as a man grasping to contain his fear of things going bump in the night while struggling with internal conflicts far heavier than the supernatural events in play. Even a gimmicky horror movie needs real ideas to animate the sense of concern for its characters…” Eric Kohn, IndieWire

“Utilizing every tool, room, and shadow within the house, Thomas crafts an audience-pleasing, jump-happy horror that will empty more than a few pails of popcorn into the air. With its short runtime, scares are packed into every corner, delivering a few surprises you won’t see coming.” Kimberley Elizabeth, Nightmare on Film Street

The Vigil lamentably progresses into an increasingly ineffective midsection that’s chockablock with cheap jump scares (ie so many loud noises) – which slowly-but-surely, when combined with the is-this-all-happening-or-is-it-just-in-Yakov’s-head vibe, drains the proceedings of its intensity and spookiness.” David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews

“Though The Vigil is frightening enough and intriguing in its avoidance of more common Christian tropes, the real focus is Davis’ lead performance. He’s electrifying as a person soldiering on despite his own psychic trauma, which may or may not be the source of things he sees and hears in the house. The Vigil is still wobbly on its legs, but a strong lead performance makes it a horror film worth seeking out.” Brian Marks, Sordid Cinema

“ …The Vigil leans heavily on jump scares and is arguably more effective during its tense buildup than in the climactic events. But to his credit, Thomas eschews laying on too many literal-minded creature depictions or supernatural FX, trusting that what we don’t see is generally scarier than what we do. ” Dennis Harvey, Variety

Cast:

  • Dave Davis
  • Hershy Fishman
  • Malky Goldman
  • Dun Laskey … Young Rubin
  • Moshe Lobel
  • Menashe Lustig
  • Fred Melamed
  • Nati Rabinowitz
  • Spencer Zender

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