‘The Vigil’ is a horror film in a Jewish Hasidic setting. The ‘vigil’ of the title is not the sitting shiva after a Jewish funeral, but sitting with the body before the funeral, as tradition demands the body never be left alone. ‘The Vigil’ seems to crank up the supernatural aspect of the ‘shomer’, tying it specifically to protecting the body from demons.
There are some interesting touches. For example, the main character is attending an ex-Hasidic support group, and there are many Jewish references in the set design, which is rich rather than spare.
The film’s style seems inspired by Darren Aronofsky and, less likely, Guy Maddin. But the story is still basically a ghost story and, while it is atmospheric and effective, it does not go much further than other horror films.
One problem is that the subtitles for the Yiddish dialogue are in fairly small print. Another is the loud and strident score and sound design.
Rating: low 0 (-4 to +4).
Mark R. Leeper and Evelyn C. Leeper