THE VIGIL. (2019) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.

THE VIGIL. (2019) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY KEITH THOMAS.
STARRING DAVE DAVIS, MENASHE LUSTIG, LYNN COHEN, RONALD COHEN, FRED MELAMED AND MALKY GOLDMAN.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I really liked this American supernatural horror film, although it’s not without its flaws. It takes place over the course of one dark night in Brooklyn’s Hasidic Borough Park neighbourhood.

The hero is Yakov, a former Hasidic Jew who seems to be attempting to shake off his Jewishness because of a traumatic incident in his past, of which we catch glimpses.

He even takes anti-psychotic pills and attends some sort of group therapy, possibly for people with PTSD who are learning to live again after whatever it was that traumatised them.

He’s just getting used to his new smartphone and he’s only now learning how to talk to women, so being immersed in his Orthodox Jewish community seems to have kept him fairly protected from the materialistic and romantic effects of society at large.

He seems to be learning for the first time how to live in the world without the nice insulating cushion of his Jewish community, and learning to live without your ‘cushions’ can be tough, as those of us who’ve ever tried it will know.

He’s desperately short of money at the moment, which is why he agrees when his former friend and mentor from the Jewish community, Reb Shulem, asks him to be the ‘Shomer’ for someone who’s just died.

A ‘Shomer’ is someone who will sit and hold a ‘vigil’ over the dead person overnight, before the lads from the undertaker’s come round and cart the body away. People can be paid to do this job in the absence of available friends or family.

Yakov really needs the money, so he goes with Shulem to the home of the Litvaks. Rubin Litvak is the deceased, and his widow, Mrs. Litvak, has dementia, which, I presume, is why she can’t do the ‘Shomer’ job.

Shulem leaves Yakov alone in the gloomy, ill-lit house in the quiet neighbourhood, telling him he’ll be back in the morning with the undertakers. That’s when the fun really starts…

Rubin Litvak was haunted by a demon when he died, a demon known as ‘the Mazzik.’ It latched onto him when he was a concentration camp prisoner faced with a hellish choice in Buchenwald in World War Two. Well, those places were probably awash with demons and evil spirits, given what we know of what went on in them.

Now that Old Man Litvak is deceased, the Mazzik needs a new host body in order to survive. Old Lady Litvak is pretty much a walking corpse, therefore the demon is not interested in her. The Mazzik feeds on pain and suffering. He has Yakov, and his tortured past and crippling, almost debilitating, guilt over past events, firmly in his sights…

The haunting is quite effective, but the physical demon itself, with root vegetables for hands, could be better. His little tricks, especially the fact that his head faces backwards into the past, are quite cool, but his overall appearance was a bit all over the place.

I like that Yakov fought the demon off with his faith, the faith he’d been trying to renounce, so maybe he can get back into the community he’d previously shunned after the action ends.

After all, it wasn’t his faith or his religion that was the problem in the first place, but the racist attitudes of the jerks who messed with him and his little brother. Yakov desperately needs his belief in his religion. If grappling overnight with this demon gives it back to him, then it’s all to the good, right?

Let’s hope that the Night of the Demon (great film, that!) brings Yakov a peace of sorts, and that the shadowy figure that pursues him down the street the morning after ‘the vigil’ isn’t what we fear it might be. If anyone deserves a break, I reckon it’s this guy.

I did enjoy the film, despite the hodge-podge, higgledy-piggledy physical appearance of the demon, and it was great to see the Jewish faith and culture featuring in a horror film for once. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. I say give us loads more of that, because it’s super-interesting, and practice will eventually make perfect.

   AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
 
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
 https://www.amazon.com/dp/1781994234