Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases
A man providing overnight watch to a deceased member of his former Orthodox Jewish community finds himself opposite a malevolent entity.
Dave Davis – Yakov
Lynn Cohen – Mrs. Litvak
Menashe Lustig – Reb Shulem
Malky Goldman – Sarah
Have you ever seen publicity for a movie and thought, “that looks fab, I’ll give that a go”?
I don’t always judge a book by its cover, but in this case I suppose I did. Except it worked in complete reverse. I thought The Vigil looked great from its poster – but it resulted in one of the most arse-numbingly tedious productions I have ever sat through. I can only liken it to It Comes at Night (2017) – where literally nothing comes – at all. Turns out it was just some symbolic message. Similar to that misleading, time-robbing shit-storm, I was sitting there waiting for something to happen..
..and exited the cinema screen about an hour and a half later totally pissed off that nothing did. Literally – physically – nothing happens. But the beginning of The Vigil does do something right..
The concept is simple; a young chap from an Orthodox Jewish community agrees to act as Shomer and watch over a corpse for one night. The set-up (dark house lit very infrequently, strange old lady upstairs) is ideal. And the beginning of the movie makes use of this concept nicely.
The moment the lead character sits down and begins his duty, close-ups of his face and wide-shot angles create some brilliant tension. He sits on a chair with his back to the corpse, which is laying under a sheet on a table behind him across the room. So you get a wide shot of Dave and Mr. Corpse behind him, just laying there..
This creates a deliciously sinister atmosphere. I personally couldn’t take my eyes off of that screen as I waited for something to happen. Would the sheet quiver? Would the corpse make the tiniest of movements? It’s the perfect ‘will it, won’t it’ scenario and the tension of it opens up the movie brilliantly.
Conflicting with the anticipation however, is disrespect when Dave gets his mobile phone out. I’ve not read up on the morals of a Shomer, but how this character sits listening to music and texting people seems completely out of synch. The blatant lack of respect for the situation makes you wonder if something bad will happen.
Although ridiculous, it works in an ‘arty horror’ sense.
“howz u?”or no “howz u?” the fact he’s got a dead body behind him amps up the level of anticipation nicely. Just do not expect to be blown away if you’re a proper horror fan.