Many horror classics bind themselves to the occult or catholic dogma. The Vigil, a first time feature outing for director Keith Thomas, takes a different tack by instead focusing on Jewish methodology and belief.
The Vigil follows Yakov (Dave Davis), a disenfranchised member of the New York Jewish community who is drawn back in by a Rabbi who offers him a tidy sum of money to act as a ‘shomer’ for one night. As a shomer Yakov is required to watch over the body of a recently deceased Hasidic man and protect his soul from evil spirits until the morticians arrive at dawn. It is during this vigil where we learn that the evil spirit is no longer after the deceased soul, but is instead seeking a replacement to attach itself to.
Throughout the film Thomas builds the tension through dimly lit rooms and plenty of eerie noises in the distances. The Vigil leans heavily on jump scares to elicit terror in the viewer, but does so in a way which maintains the tension and unease.
By setting this film the Jewish culture it adds new layers of nuance by injecting a well worn tale with flashes of Jewish guilt and Holocaust trauma. With nods and echoes of The Conjuring franchise The Vigil is a gripping and novel horror that is effectively creepy.