FILM REVIEW | The Vigil

No payoff: Dave Davis stars as Yakov, a man charged with watching over a dead body for a night in new Blumhouse thriller The Vigil, rated MA15+, in cinemas now.
No payoff: Dave Davis stars as Yakov, a man charged with watching over a dead body for a night in new Blumhouse thriller The Vigil, rated MA15+, in cinemas now.

The Vigil has as good as horror premise as any.

A former Orthodox Jew agrees to be the shomer - basically a nightwatchman for the recently departed - of a Holocaust survivor for five hours until the undertakers arrive. The late man's widow, who has dementia, will also be in the creepy house for the night.

Now that's a plot that has plenty to work with.

And when The Vigil starts, it looks like it's really going to work on those frights, building tension and operating in shadows.

But, unfortunately, by the end of the film all the set-up leads to a highly underwhelming pay-off and no clear message.

The movie starts with protagonist Yakov being told that the man who originally agreed to be Mr Litvak's shomer left the job early in fright, and it was now up to him to watch over the corpse.

Yakov learns Mr Litvak almost never left the house before he died, reporting that whenever he tried he was in agony.

Despite the warnings, the young man takes the job and begins his vigil.

Now, the film does a really great job early on of capturing the skin-crawling feeling of being along in a dark house at night.

Peering into the darkness highlights the terror of the unknown, the shadows seem malevolent. There are long, unbroken shots where nothing happens, but the tension rises in the quiet.

But soon things do start to happen. Odd things appear - a toenail here, a turned head there.

And, maddeningly, Yakov decides not to turn on any lights. This obvious - and untaken - solution to his problems takes viewers right out of the movie, and it becomes hard to suspend disbelief.

Once it becomes clear that Yakov is dealing with something supernatural, or thinks he is at the very least, the film becomes far more uninteresting.

What had promise ultimately falls flat.

It's hard to believe that The Vigil is a Blumhouse film, given the production company has released such truly brilliant films as the recent The Invisible Man, Get Out and Happy Death Day.

But, in these (horrifying) times of severely limited big screen film choices, The Vigil is, indeed, better than nothing!

Rating: 5/10

This story The Vigil film review | Scary movie lacks pay-off first appeared on Camden-Narellan Advertiser.