This first low-budget film, but with an ambitious subject, respects the rules of horror in an unprecedented context.

According to the director of The Vigil, Keith Thomas, the Jewish religion knows neither Satan, nor hell, nor demons. There are, however, exorcisms and Jewish exorcists. His research has thus enabled him to discover a ritual and Hebrew devils which feed an original subject, if not innovative in its treatment. However, it does not lack efficiency and will satisfy fans, from Wednesday July 29 in theaters.

Withdrawn from the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, Yakov is asked by his former rabbi to watch a dead man overnight, as recommended by the mortuary ritual. The young man, in financial difficulty, accepts with regret against a good nest egg. He finds himself facing the deceased and his widow whose mental stability is wavering. Soon, strange phenomena, more and more threatening, manifest themselves against Yakov …Possessed (Wilson Yip, 2012) already dealt with the possession of a child by a Dibbuk, a Jewish demon, a subject rarely discussed in cinema. But the subject of the funeral vigil conducive to haunting phenomena recalls come, famous short story by Nicolas Gogol. Mario Bava was freely inspired by it for The Mask of the Demon (1960), and the Russians Konstantin Yershov and Georgi Kropachyov faithfully adapted it under its original title in 1967 (on DVD at Artus Films). The Vigil approaches the subject of Jewish demonology in a psychological light: the inner demons of the deceased and his watchman trigger supernatural events.

Keith Thomas benefits from his small budget by reducing his film to a closed room in a New York apartment, with a limited number of characters. The unit of time, a night of a few hours, favors action in real time. Relating more to horror cinema than horror (with which we too often identify any fantastic film), The Vigil exploits nocturnal atmospheres with threatening shadows, and a soundtrack evocative of The Devil’s House (1963) de Robert Wise.

Dave Davis dans “The Vigil” de Keith Thomas (II). (Copyright Wild Bunch Distribution)

Keith Thomas will be criticized for using shock editing effects to startle the viewer, as is customary in fear. But he does not abuse it, focusing on the drama and trauma the deceased suffered during the war, causing the demon to manifest. Yakov is also not free from personal troubles that predispose him to suffer demonic attacks. With its psychological approach and careful realization, The Vigil does not upset the lines of the fantastic, but is effective.

L’affiche de “The Vigil” de Keith Thomas (II). (WILD BUNCH DISTRIBUTION)

Genre : Fantastic
Director : Keith Thomas (II)
Actors: Dave Davis, Menashe Lustig, Malky Goldman

Pays : United States
Duration : 1h45
Exit : July 29, 2020
Distributor : Wild Bunch

Forbidden to children under 12

Synopsis : DNew York, Brooklyn. After leaving the Orthodox Jewish community, Yakov, short of money as well as of faith, reluctantly agrees to provide a wake for a deceased member of this religious group. With the remains of the deceased for only company, he soon finds himself confronted with increasingly worrying phenomena …