Movies that focus on elements of different cultures always interest me. I guess that’s because I look at them as a chance to learn about things in life that I would otherwise never come into contact with. Along with the fact that it’s a horror film, that’s one of the primary reasons I decided to give The Vigil a try.
After having recently left his insular religious community in Brooklyn, Yakov (Dave Davis) finds himself low on funds. With that in mind, he reluctantly accepts an offer from his former rabbi to take on the role as a “shomer” and watch over a recently deceased community member for the night. He hopes the night will go by smoothly and quickly, but shortly after arriving, Yakov comes to realize that the spirits who haunt him have other plans.
A shomer is something that’s both new to me and maybe to horror films. It’s an intriguing feature to build around and I’m somewhat surprised to not have seen it utilized in other movies at some point in the past. With that being said, it’s easy to see why someone like me would be interested in seeing this. On the surface, it could provide something new, but in reality, it’s mostly conventional.
The first 40 minutes or so move by pretty slowly. In terms of scares, they handle them the same way that most other horror movies have for years now. There are a few things sneakily moving around in the background, but nothing of circumstance really happens. Once you recognize that’s the kind of movie we’re getting, your potential enjoyment may come down to how much you’re willing to accept the familiarity of it all.
As we progress through The Vigil, some of the horror elements that come later on are solid. However, I don’t know if I could say that they’re worth spending money on. When they do show up, it makes you want to focus on what’s happening, but it takes a long while for the best stuff to make its way to the screen. Saving the best for last isn’t unexpected, but it would have been nice to have something somewhat similar being shown to us earlier on.
I suppose this could be even more engaging for those who practice the Jewish faith. Seeing a part of their culture showcased in this fashion could be rather intriguing despite some of the repetitive nature that we see as far as scares. And as I said, if you’re cool with the familiarity of what you get, The Vigil is something that you could find acceptable even if you don’t know much about this particular religion.
As a curious person open to learning, The Vigil doesn’t give me a whole lot to learn about after getting us acquainted with the practices we’re introduced to in the beginning. Of course, that isn’t the deciding factor when determining how I saw this movie. As always, I was willing to push that to the side and just enjoy myself, but the cliched horror and the slow pace of this incredibly short film didn’t allow for that as much.
Director: Keith Thomas
Screenwriter: Keith Thomas
Film Length: 90 minutes
Release Date: February 26, 2021
Distributor: IFC Midnight
- Score - 4/104/10