This Movie Review is the Brain Child of so many different personalities!!!
You say you want to watch a horror movie but you also want to know about world religions you might not be familiar with.
Then The Vigil might just be the movie for you. Keep in mind that it’s not scary and quite boring for most if its running time, but if you’d like to get some tidbits about the rich Jewish religion, its customs and some of its demons, then you might want to take part in this vigil.
No you don’t.
Okay. What’s his or her name, this Jewish “friend” of yours?
I take it back. It’s totally believable that the only Jewish person you know is Steven Spielberg.
Speaking of Steven Spielberg, his 2005 masterpiece Munich features Lynn Cohen, who has a small but important part in The Vigil. The only reason I bring this up is that you should watch Munich a dozen times more before you even consider sitting through The Vigil. It’s an exponentially better movie (which isn’t that much of a stretch) and a lot scarier.
The Vigil had some potential, but so much of it is squandered that a running time of fewer than 90 minutes feels longer than Shoah. And just as cheery.
The Vigil opens with a lengthy epigraph we’re supposed to pay attention to if we’re not Jewish scholars.
When a loved one dies, it’s tradition to have it watched over until it is interred. That person is called a Shomer. Usually it’s a family member, but when one isn’t available one can be hired to watch over the body. Not to be confused with American comedian Amy Schumer. I mean, she’d probably do it if you paid her enough but she’s more than likely got other things to do.
The movie opens again in a bathroom. We meet our main character Yakov (Dave Davis) looking in a mirror wondering how lazy his parents might have been to name someone Dave Davis. He’s taking a regimen of prescription pills. Can’t imagine why this would be important later.
Yakov is in what looks to be a meeting of Jewish friends and how they’re getting along in society at large. Yakov laments on how he doesn’t have much money. He’s forced to choose sometimes between taking his medication and eating meals. He’s glad to meet fellow Jews every week to share his cares and concerns.
Money problems aside, he got a new phone!
Which is nice because a new lady friend Sarah (Malky Goldman) put her number in it and hopes they could meet for coffee sometime. Aside from not having any money, things are looking up for Yakov. New phone. Possible date.
There’s nothing that could ruin this night for Yakov.
When Yakov is done there’s another Jewish man waiting for him on the sidewalk. His name is Reb (Menashe Lustig) and he’s got an especially important job for Yakov.
Reb knows Yakov needs some money. It just so happens a local elder has just died and that he needs a Shomer. The previous Shomer changed his mind and just left abruptly which in no way should arouse suspicion in any prospective Shomers.
Reb offers $200.
Yakov wants $7 million dollars.
Reb offers $400 and that’s final.
Yakov says fine and is in no way phased that the previous Shomer just took off.
Reb and Yakov go the house dead person’s house. The people from the mortuary will be there to pick up the body in about 5 hours. That’s not too long to wait.
The corpse’s widow Mrs. Litvak (Lynn Cohen) goes upstairs, but not before telling Yakov that he should leave this very moment. That he is not welcome in this house. That terrible sh*t is about to go down if he stays.
Reb dismisses Mrs. Litvak’s rantings because she’s old and grieving. Yakov is a tiny bit worried but nothing is coming between him and $400 he can make and he doesn’t even have to pole dance.
Yakov is now alone in the house with a dead body and a sleeping widow. He’s got a book and he can text Sarah whenever. Just another boring night doing Shomer stuff with a corpse.
Yakov stars hearing noises.
He begins having flashbacks to a traumatic time that will have to be healed before the closing credits, or else!
Yakov thinks it’s nothing. He just needs to take some more doses of his medication, that’s all.
But there are other things going on in the house. Things ranting Mrs. Litvak only hinted at.
Yakov tries to leave the house. But he can’t.
Before the mortuary people come, Yakov is going to find this will be the most difficult $400 he’ll ever make. If he doesn’t figure things out soon, the mortuary people will have two corpses to deal with…
What Works With The Vigil
- An extended telephone conversation is the closest thing you’ll get to an actual scare because it’s the closest thing you’ll get to being surprised during The Vigil. For most of the movie you’ll be holding a vigil for the 90 minutes you’ve wasted watching this.
What Doesn’t Work With The Vigil
- The film is earnestly acted, has a storyline with the some potential, and provides the opportunity for the uninitiated and uncircumcised to learn about Jewish tradition. Unfortunately, the movie is just not very scary.
- The Vigil is produced by the purveyor of chintzy PG-13 scares, Blumhouse Productions (Truth Or Dare, Fantasy Island and other junior high horror movies). You get the feeling the movie wasn’t scary enough so Blumhouse added cheap Foley jump scares to generate some kind of reaction instead of boredom. Writer/director Keith Thomas provides what could have been a fine movie villain but doesn’t give him/it anything to do that would translate to being scary on film. Like The Nun, a possible frightening presence amounts to zero actual scares.
- If you’re really in the mood for religious horror that actually delivers, then watch Saint Maud. The first 20 minutes of that movie are scarier than anything in The Vigil.
Follow that time honored moviegoing tradition of skipping a scare free horror movie like The Vigil.