Directed and written by Keith Thomas (in his feature directorial debut here), this Blumhouse production tells of Yakov, a down on his luck fellow, who is contacted by a rabbi of his former Orthodox Jewish community, offering him 400 dollars to execute the rite of “shoimer”, consisting in keeping vigil to a recently deceased man, comforting his soul with prayers for a whole night.
The person who was supposed to keep vigil run away, but Yakov isn’t worried, as he has performed the rite a lot in the past, so he accepts, and enters the house of the departed, the recluse and odd Ruben Litvak, where the old widow is also resting. But as the night proceeds, strange events start happening,Yakov starts learning more of Ruben, his past, and demons from his own past start haunting him…
It’s an interesting premise that delivers an intriguing angle to this type of possession/exorcism movies, has a likeable main lead, great atmosphere and suspense, with an interesting choice for the entity (taken from Jewish folklore and demonology, i assume), and some ok scares, even though they’re definitely not the selling point. A simple premise that makes full use of the small house scenario, executed with elegance, sadly a bit lacking in the story department, or in the backstories to the characters (the Holocaust is involved), which are not bad, but are definitely the less inspired parts of the movie, the more typical.
Overall, though, The Vigil it’s more than sum of its parts, and definitely a good, really solid supernatural horror, a chiller, to be more specific, with some good visuals that mines religious elements from a different religion, instead of some brand of Christianity, and from a fairly ignorant prospective, they make for something you don’t see represented often in horror.