The Vigil is an above average chiller that is enhanced by the terrific sound design and some brilliant directorial flourishes.
The big shame for The Vigil is the small audiences that will pay to go and see this movie at the tail end of the pandemic.
This low budget thriller is probably one of the best horror movies of the last 10 years, and if the audience we saw it with is anything to go by — there were six of us — then it might disappear and have to hope it finds a fanbase when it is released on some streaming site in the next month or two.
Written and directed by Keith Thomas, the simple story of a man charged with holding a vigil over the dead body of the Jewish community, is creepy, haunting and unsettling.
Yakov Ronen, the young troubled soul who finds himself trapped in a nightmarish scenario, is played wonderfully by Dave Davis. His performance is both nuanced and likable, automatically putting the audience on his side.
Lynn Cohen plays Mrs. Litvak, the widow of the story, who is also haunted by demonic forces in the house, played beautifully by Cohen.
Basically this is pretty much a two-hander, with the bulk of the film carried by Davis and Cohen, tormented by a demonic force that seems to be feeding off the trauma of the inhabitants of the house. The claustrophobic setting of the house is so intense, it almost seems like a stage play, with only fleeting scenes set outside the Litvak household.
The shrouded body of Mr. Litvak becomes a focal point in every scene it appears in, as your eye is constantly drawn to it. We expect to see movement, even when there is none, and that’s a trick the director uses to his advantage.
Often there are shadows and images that fill us with dread, even though nothing is actually happening. Initially, things are all half-glimpsed or out of focus, but eventually, the viewer gets a more obvious view of what is going on.
The demon of the piece is used sparingly, another good choice, but it was a shame that there were a few jump-scares that tonally didn’t really fit the narrative. I wonder if Blumhouse insisted on including some, just because.
There is a backstory included for the events that involves the Holocaust atrocities, but it is left a little vague, perhaps too vague, and if it had just been fleshed out a tiny bit more, it may have felt more satisfactory at the film’s final reel.
However, The Vigil is an above average chiller that is enhanced by the terrific sound design and some brilliant directorial flourishes.
If you get the chance, and you like a spooky horror, grab your mask and get to see this.
Louie Fecou reviews films, tv shows and comics for Ready Steady Cut, HC Movie Reviews and We Have A Hulk. He currently runs his own business in between watching films.