The Vigil is a tale with trauma at its heart.
Yakov, is a young male Hassid, who has lost his faith and become isolated from his sect.
When we first meet him, Yakov (Dave Davis) is socially awkward, out of his depth, and the last person you would expect to triumph over evil, should it raise its demonic head his way.
The fragility of Yakov is partly what lures you into his world, and as a viewer we become intrigued by the journey he is about to undertake.
The weight of his character is captured through Keith Thomas’ direction as he produces a slow-burn descent into Yakov’s personal hell, where he must confront his trauma head-on if he has any hope to survive through the night.
Thomas’ care and dedication to creating atmosphere is The Vigil’s masterstroke and is truly captivating, but hey… I’m a sucker for the slow burn.
Plus, it has a wealth of talent behind the films creation, from cinematographer Zach Kuperstein (The Eyes of My Mother), editor Brett W. Bachman (Mandy), and a score by Michael Yezerski (The Devil’s Candy) who combine to create a beautifully crafted film.
So, what is this ordeal that Yakov must face?
Enticed by his Rabbi, Yakov agrees to become a shomer, a Jewish practice that involves watching over a recently deceased member of the community (seriously, who would do that? Feels far to eerie to me).
Yakov takes up this charge with the promise of payment to protect the soul of the deceased by spending the night in his house, and receives a none-too-friendly welcome from the elderly widow.
What we take as a frosty reception is actually, one of warning, but Yakov doesn’t take heed, and as such gets more than he bargained for.
The ambience generates a sense of creepiness and isolation that trauma survivors must endure to overcome their ordeal.
This is a testament to the writing and direction of Keith Thomas which belies his status as a debut feature in the directors chair, and his smart enough to combine with some of the greatest artists in their field.
While the scares maybe few and far between, the atmosphere and acting sure as hell make up for it, forging an incredibly unsettling movie about survival and once again Blumhouse have backed an impressive movie as part of their production canon.
- Saul Muerte