A young man is confronted with the eerie presence of a demon – nothing new in the world of horror films. But director Keith Thomas combines in THE VIGIL – THE WATCH this hackneyed premise with Jewish customs. Even if he doesn’t seem to trust this decision himself. You can find out more about this in our review.
Can Yakov see anything in the glow of the smartphone light?
But as much as all of these ingredients sound like a really gripping horror drama, the makers seem to have little faith in their vision of presenting history. Narratively, “The Vigil” never gives them a reason to get out of the affair with sensationalism – and yet Keith Thomas does exactly that. Instead of concentrating primarily on the fate of the main character and adapting to the chamber play production in terms of minimalism, he chooses Director uses only ingredients from the pot of gross motor shock productions. The intrusive soundtrack overshadows large parts of the film not only during but also long after the jump scares, which are at least as intrusive. Of course, there is nothing fundamental against these shocking moments that are specifically designed to make the audience cringe; Compared to even more bluntly staged genre fare like “The Grudge”, “Baba Yaga”, “The Possessed” and so on and so forth, there aren’t even that many here.
“Instead of concentrating primarily on the fate of the main character and adapting to the chamber play production in terms of minimalism, the director only chooses ingredients from the pot of gross motor shock production.”
But their penetrance is sufficient to overshadow the atmosphere, which actually functions via much more sensitive mechanisms. This ultimately means that the initial anchoring in Judaism hardly plays a role anymore. Because under this production, the connections to religious history only serve to bluntly disturb the viewer – and not to stimulate thought, because what is shown can be anchored on a deeper level. Too bad.
Conclusion: “The Vigil” is on paper a truly disturbing horror drama that deals with the atrocities committed against Judaism. In practical implementation, however, director and author Keith Thomas unfortunately only presented a generic jump scare that falls far short of its potential.
“The Vigil – The Death Watch” can be seen in USA cinemas from July 23rd.