Film Review – The Vigil (2019)

Title – The Vigil (2019)

Director – Keith Thomas (feature debut)

Cast – Dave Davis, Lynn Cohen, Menashe Lustig, Malky Goldman

Plot – One time orthodox New York Jew Yakov Ronen (Davis) is hired late one night as a Shomer, someone employed to watch over a dead body and help guide its soul into the afterlife. This is one job however that isn’t as it seems.

“He needs to leave now!” 

Review by Eddie on 17/12/2020

With its Jewish/Hebrew spin giving it a completely unique feeling and vibe, buzzy 2020 horror effort The Vigil certainly does have some fresh and exciting elements and showcases a promising new directional talent in Keith Thomas but despite its moments, The Vigil is only ever a mid-tier horror effort that’s lack of of real scares hurts its chances of entering into genre greatness.

Distributed through current horror kings Blumhouse, The Vigil was the small film that could after successful festival screenings around the world and its not hard to see why so many were intrigued by Thomas’s Yiddish infused offering that follows Dave Davis’s hapless former orthodox Jew Yakov Ronen on a night of corpse watching that is absolutely not as fun as it sounds.

A Jewish custom where someone must read prayers and watch over a body’s soul as it departs this world, the shimmer that Yakov finds himself partaking in on this fateful night allows Thomas to create a serious sense of mood and atmosphere early on but the films mostly singular setting and repetitive nature begin to wear thin as the brief runtime wears on and once we as an audience become more accustomed too the terrors both real and imaginary haunting Yakov, the initial feeling of dread and unease gives way too more formulaic material.

It’s a shame the unique set-up and location of The Hasidic community of “Boro” Park, in Brooklyn New York wasn’t able to be utilized even more for the film, especially when the focus turns more to Yakov and his past traumas or even unnecessarily potential relationships, you can’t help but wish The Vigil had done more with the loaded potential in the grasp of its long fingertips.

Everything that happens is perfectly professional, Thomas’s direction is often smartly designed and some creepy imagery from the film such as distorting bodies and a hallway that comes alive with movement will likely make hardcore horror fans extremely content but its hard to escape the fact that it feels as though The Vigil had more to give with its neat but unfulfilled potential is mostly forgettable around an air of what could’ve been.

Final Say – 

A uniquely based horror film in both setting and concept, The Vigil has a collection of impressive moments and elements but doesn’t maximize these around an increasingly familiar tale and a rather bland main protagonist.

2 1/2 extra long fingers out of 5

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