Yakov Ronen (Dave Davis) is a Jewish man who is struggling in life. He is currently unemployed and battling to pay rent. Yakov even has to choose between paying for medication or meals.
But soon Yakov is approached by a man who is seeking an overnight shomer. If you are not familiar with what a shomer is, it is a Jewish practice in which a person watches over the body of a recently deceased member within the community. The shomer will read from the book of Psalms to protect the soul of the recently deceased. This ritual is called The Vigil. Yakov is offered cash upfront for conducting five hours of work in which his shift will end in the morning. Because Yakov needs the money, he accepts the job
While walking to the location where Yakov is required to work for the night, Yakov is given more information about the man he will be watching over. Some of these details include that the dead man survived the Holocaust and made it through the war but lost his entire family. The previous shomer was too afraid to complete the task required and refused to show up. As Yakov begins his duty as a shomer, he finds himself dealing with a haunting secret within the home.
As a film, The Vigil is a slow burn horror. In so many cases, there is lots of build-up and suspense. While the film does sneak in a few jump scares, the movie is more focused on being a slow-burning horror. The story itself is essential, and it does not take long until the plot is underway and Yakov begins his night as a shomer.
Because the film is set at night-time, the film is generally dark and gritty (perfect ingredients for horror). But what is even better is the sound design. I give full credit to the filmmakers wonderful work in the audio track. In the audio track, there are sound effects which only add to the uncomfortable tension.
Fun fact- The Vigil has been written and directed by Keith Thomas. The Vigil is Keith’s directional debut and has the added support of Blumhouse productions. As a directional debut, I found this film creative and refreshing in the genre of horror and suspense. The plot and themes are also something I feel we’ve yet to see in Cinema before. The lead character of Yakov played by Dave Davis also delivered a solid performance.
Overall, as a directional debut, this is a solid horror film. Introducing a refreshing feel to the horror genre, we have a plot that feels different and is welcome to the big screen. With a haunting plot and a soundtrack loaded with a creepy audio track to complement the storyline, The Vigil is a slow-burning horror film which truly did entertain me.
The Vigil (2019) is Available on DVD from 13th January 2021
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Review Written by Peter Walkden