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Canberra
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Glavcorp
Glavcorp

Now Showing: The Vigil (MA15+)

Luke McWilliams gives his review of the 2019 supernatural horror film, The Vigil, written and directed by Keith Thomas in his feature directorial debut.

In an apartment in Brooklyn’s Hassidic Boro Park, a group of young Jewish men and women discuss their experience acclimatising to life outside of their former insular Orthodox community. After the meeting, the reclusive and despondent Yakov (Dave Davis) is approached by his former Rabbi (Menashe Lustig), who hires the troubled young man to serve as a ‘shomer’ to keep a prayer vigil over a recently deceased community member and Holocaust survivor for the remainder of the night.

Written by debut director Keith Thomas, the film is a simple, yet effective, ‘creature feature’ sourced from Jewish lore. Lacking faith, money and stable mental health, Yakov is vulnerable to the new world he finds himself in outside of his staunch but supportive former community. 

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Spending a night alone in a haunted house but for a fresh corpse and a disturbed elderly widow, Yakov is increasingly susceptible to supernatural trappings such as hallucinations and his spiraling sanity. He must overcome his and his community’s collective trauma to reach the dawn unscathed and ensure the safety of the soul he is entrusted with.

The movie is at its strongest when building up the claustrophobic, gothic ambience, which serves as a framework for the psychological horror and dread Yakov experiences. It is unfortunate then that jump-scares are executed throughout for cheap shock over the underlying horror that is steadily revealed throughout.

Verdict: A solid entry in the supernatural horror genre following in the footsteps of The Exorcist and The Autopsy of Jane Doe.  3.5 stars.

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