Friday, January 01, 2021

Review: The Vigil (2019)

It's an interesting sign of a good film, that even a couple of weeks after seeing it (Christmas got in the way of writing this review!) I still have good memories of it ... but saying that, it's hard to recall any specific details of the plot - except the final scene which I appreciated the subtlety of ...

The film's basic concept is simple: a young Jewish man is persuaded by a friend to watch over the body of one of the community who has died. This is a tradition and the 'watcher' is called 'Shomer' ... in this case, there's a very real need for this watch as the dead man was possessed by a mazik - a malevolent entity - and it's next target is Yakov unless he can avoid it.

The film is a standout role for Dave Davis as Yakov, and he brings a vulnerability to the part as he sits and watches and remembers his own life, as the mazik postures and tricks to try and unseat him. There's some good jump scares too, and the overall soundtrack and sound design is excellent. But perhaps the film relies too much on these, rather than developing it's own set of scares.

As mentioned, one of my favourite elements is the very last shot ... and it's hard to discuss it without giving things away ... but when it comes, apart from wondering why we're holding on an out of focus image, concentrate on the doorway to the house ... it's a nicely creepy coda to the preceding film!

There's an element of Grudge-like retribution too as Yakov's girlfriend (Malky Goldman) gets 'taken' by the demon and it seems to infest the lives of the dead Mr Litvak (Ronald Cohen) and his wife (Lynn Cohen).

Certainly one to seek out and watch, and a very promising debut from the director Keith Thomas.