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

DON’T KNOCK TWICE. (2016) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

don't knock twice

DON’T KNOCK TWICE. (2016) DIRECTED BY CARADOG JAMES. STARRING KATEE SACKHOFF AND LUCY BOYNTON.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This isn’t the world’s greatest horror film, and it’s a bit confused and even confusing at times, but I liked it enough to watch it twice (the second time was to fill in the gaps left by the first viewing), so it must be review-worthy. In any case, you’re getting this review and liking it, lol.

It’s a mother-child horror film, except the child isn’t an adorable cute baby but a surly teenage girl called Chloe. Chloe was put in an orphanage when she was a nipper because her mother, Jess, was doing drugs and didn’t feel capable of giving Chloe the care she deserved.

Most people would consider that Jess did the right thing in giving the care of Chloe over to someone who could actually do the job properly, but Chloe’s feelings of abandonment, rejection and hurt understandably run really deep.

So, when Jess turns up several years later and asks to have Chloe back, Chloe’s reaction is initially one of hostility. Jess has her life together now. She’s a successful sculptor, married to a rich prick of a businessman (he’s not exactly Mr. Understanding) and living in a fabulous mansion with her hubby.

But Chloe is grateful for a safe place to stay (ie, Jess’s house) when it turns out that a silly game she played with her boyfriend from the children’s home, Danny, has resulted in a nasty female demon being woken from the dead. Dontcha just hate it when that happens, lol.

The demon has taken Danny with her to her underworld hell, but that’s not the end of the matter. Now she’s after Chloe, because Chloe was as responsible for waking her as Danny was. Fair enough, I say. Ya reaps what ya sows.

Chloe flees to Jess’s house, thinking it a safe space to hide from the demon, who takes the form of a horrible black-coloured, crawling, groaning female with elongated stick-arms and stick-legs that give her the appearance of a giant scuttling Shelob-type spider. Poor Chloe doesn’t reckon on the demon being able to travel a lousy couple-a miles. Clearly it has some class of travel card…!

Jess’s house, garden and studio where she sculpts her creepy statues form a good spooky base of operations for the demon. Throw into the mix the following: the ghost of an elderly woman who killed herself after being accused of the abduction of a small boy years ago; the detective who accused her of the child’s abduction; the small boy himself, and, finally, a friend of Jess’s, an artist’s model who pales with fright and heads for the hills when she meets Chloe, because Chloe has been ‘marked’ for possession by a terrible supernatural entity, and there you have yourself the recipe for a pretty good little horror flick.

The film peeps clearly had access to a nice little bit of forest also, which worked really well in the scenes in which Chloe and Jess were pulled through a portal into another dimension.

The so-called ‘witch’s house’ in the film, in which the demon was said to be ‘resting,’ is like the spooky old abandoned house in the two recent IT: CHAPTERS 1 & 2 films, where Pennywise’s domain can be accessed more or less by accident. I don’t know why the people in films get the urge to go into houses like these which are clearly evil and the devil’s own personal stamping-ground, but how-and-ever. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t have some of our greatest horror films, I guess.

The film has been likened by Forbidden Planet to DON’T LOOK NOW and CANDYMAN, and the same Forbidden Planet also says that DON’T KNOCK TWICE is ‘one of the best mother-child horror movies since THE ORPHANAGE.’ I’m not saying it’s that good (I don’t think it is!), but it’s definitely worth one watch, anyway. Just don’t do what I did. DON’T WATCH TWICE…

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 Film-Making. 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

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com