The true beauty of any art form is that anyone, regardless of their age, race, creed, social standing, or anything in between, can create art. In film especially the audience gets to experience stories told from every walk of life and even a story told that has been told before can be experienced like never before depending on the director. In the horror community, this has created genres from German Expressionism all the way to the Giallo, Italian Murder Mysteries. One group that has been seldomly heard in the horror genre, until now with the haunting demon tale The Vigil, is the Jewish community.
Life as of recent has not been easy for Yakov and with his most recent job interview falling through, money for rent and his medication is looking unlikely. That is until Reb Shulem approaches him with a simple job, for good money, be a shomer for the night. A shomer in the traditional sense is a guardian meant to watch over the body of someone recently deceased when they have no one to do so. After some bargaining Yakov takes the position and follows the man to the deceased’s house. For only five hours the job should be easy, but he soon finds out that there is something truly sinister lurking in the shadows of the home.
Through the introduction of a new voice in the genre, there is not only a new perspective to view these stories from but also a whole world is opened up to the audience. When setting its self in a Jewish community in Brooklyn, The Vigil introduces the audience to a different way of life from the character’s backstories and relationships to the language, with many characters speaking Yiddish alongside English. This all together created a tone and setting that makes the otherwise standard horror story more unique and interesting.
The more standard horror elements come from it being what seems to be a basic demon story but the movie is elevated through its own unique take on the creature and some excellent filmmaking. This is a gorgeously shot movie that makes the most of every frame and every second. The still moments in The Vigil are dreadful and oppressive leading to the more horrifying parts of the movie to feel frightening and wild. This film is the perfect combination of beautiful and terrifying, one scene, in particular, that is visually disturbing and just plain haunting.
A world where every voice has a chance to make its impact in the art world is one not only to strive for but one to be excited for. If the film community was a buffet, there could be nothing worse than having the same meal over and over. The Vigil was as visually and mentally stimulating as the films that people call the classics with a new flavor that is rarely tasted in the horror community. Needless to say, it left me hungry for more, and I will be looking forward to other films hoping they will leave me just as satisfied.
8 out of 10