The Vigil is a horror film that was directed by Keith Thomas in his feature directorial debut, it released in 2019 under the banner of Blumhouse Productions. It follows Yakov Ronen, a former member of the orthodox Jewish community who lost his faith after a traumatic event. To pay his rent due to not having a job. He is approached by a member of his former community, to keep vigil over a Holocaust survivor who had died recently.
Yakov accepts the job after negotiating a higher fee. A previously hired a Shomer had left due to being “afraid”. Also, Yakov has prior experience with keeping vigil. That night, Yakov meets with the widow, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. She reluctantly accepts Yakov as a Shomer and he is informed that the mortuary men will arrive in five hours.
That Night, Yakov is targeted by a malevolent spirit known as a Mazzik. It will use his trauma and dwindling faith against him. Can he survive the 5 hours?
The Vigil is essentially just another exorcism film but with the twist that it’s based around Judaism rather than Catholicism. However, this helps give the concept a fresh feel. I was not familiar with many of the things that were said and performed in the film. One of the strongest aspects of the film is undoubtedly the performance of Dave Davis as Yakov. This is pretty much a one man show within a single set so huge credit goes to him and his believable delivery.
The setup is so ripe for scares that it’s quite disappointing how minimal the ones that we do get are. Using the creepy old lady with Alzheimer’s disease would have been easy but it doesn’t really happen. In fact, she’s much more helpful than I expected. There’s plenty of tension and spooky atmosphere but it should have gone further. Ultimately, this feels more like a spiritualist film about mourning, guilt, loss and the regaining of lost faith. Don’t get me wrong, it’s executed well for what it is. There’s some really cool looking visuals near the end. Also, the demon itself is creepy. Again, I just hoped for a bit more is all.
The Final Score - 6/10