In Brief: The Vigil has a guy spending the night with a dead guy and his obviously insane widow. Hardcore horror fans will find this one a better film than those not into the genre.
The Vigil is a predictable, low-budget horror movie. Sometimes predictable movies like this work and sometimes they don’t. This one is a don’t but the “don’t” has an asterisk. There are two pretty good performances and a twist or two that make this one kind of fun.
The first is Dave Davis who plays Yakov. He’s been asked sit overnight with the body of a recently deceased man. The practice is called Shemira; an orthodox Jewish tradition where someone watches over a person from death until they are buried.
The man wanting Yakov to do the job is trying to get him back into the faith. As the movie progresses you find out the reason Yakov has lost his faith and left the religion. Yakov is also quite broke and when the man offers a significant amount of money to do the job, he reluctantly accepts.
The second — and best — performance in the movie comes from Lynn Cohen who plays the dead man’s wife. She pops in and out of the story and creeps Yakov out. Cohen’s performance will have the same effect on you. It’s just a nightmarish bit of acting.
Her performance reminds me a lot of Julian Beck from the second Poltergeist movie. I’ve never forgotten his chilling lines, “You’re all gonna die in there. All of you. You are gonna die.”
The widow is adamant that Yakov is not to be there and that the “other” person is supposed to be the one watching the corpse. As the movie progresses, Yakov begins to agree.
That leads to the film’s third most interesting character. It’s the man lying under the sheet in the living room. Does the man Yakov is to watch move? Or did Yakov — influenced by the definitely shocking behavior of the widow — imagine the movement?
The Vigil is written and directed by Keith Thomas. It’s his first movie. Unfortunately, his inexperience shows. Outside of the uncertain work of Davis and the hair-raising acting of Cohen, his movie isn’t all that good. The things to like about it have been mentioned.
What’s unfortunate is Thomas’ film wanders somewhat aimlessly for 90-minutes and sadly has nowhere interesting or original to go.
*** Click here to watch a 15-minute interview with The Vigil star, Dave Davis.
The Vigil is rated PG-13 for mature themes and some language. It’s creepy in places and I loved Lynn Cohen’s out-of-it widow performance. It made the movie. Give this one a 2 on the Friday Flicks with Gary o to 5 scale.
You can purchase a viewing of The Vigil on Amazon Prime.
Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.