The Vigil (2020) A Review

It’s takes it’s time to get going, and people who are squeamish about body horror should be a bit wary, but the atmosphere was incredible.

Certificate: 15

Director: Keith Thomas

Screenwriter: Keith Thomas

Starring: Dave Davis, Menashe Lustig, Malky Goldman

Genre: Horror

Runtime: 89 Minutes

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

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 shomer 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 malevolent entity. – By Toronto Film Festival.

This film Is basically a One man Show and Dave Davis does an absolutely excellent job.  He facial expressions are usually front and centre of the frame, so a less than stellar performance would have really been detrimental to the whole film.  But his performance from beginning to end was just excellent.

This isn’t a horror film that throws scares at you every few seconds.  Instead, it takes it’s time to set the scene, introduce our characters and then builds suspense.  And there is a lot of suspense.  You get several fake scares, designed to put you on edge, with the help of the dramatic score, but then when the genuinely terrifying parts happen, they really catch you off guard.  We never get a clear vision of what is tormenting Yakov, which is always a plus for me.  The faceless, formless horror is always more terrifying than anything they can make with prosthetics or CG.  There are some body horror elements to this film, with are made even worse if, like me, you are sensitive to certain kinds of sounds.  It’s nothing too gruesome, but the sounds make it seem worse than it probably is.

I just wish that, and I don’t say this very often, the film had been a little bit longer.  It doesn’t really take the time to properly explain what is going on in the house.  The explanation about the demon is mentioned in passing a few times, but I feel like I needed more information.  There is a flashback that we see at the beginning of the film, and then again towards the end that, while I think I understand it’s significance, (I think it is explaining how the demon attached itself to the old man), It seems out of place, and it is never really referenced in the main plot of the film, so had that not been there at all, it would have made no difference.

Also the final shot seemed like a cheap attempt to supposedly leave the audience with an open ending. It is a trick used far too often in horror films and one that should maybe be retired by now.

This is a relatively small release, not one I have heard a lot of people talking about, but if you enjoy atmospheric horror films, then you will definitely get a kick out of this one.

‘The Vigil’ is out in UK Cinemas now!

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