TIFF review: The Vigil

Keith Thomas's horror film is full of the usual jump scares and musical stings, but its unique context makes it a worthy Midnight Madness entry

THE VIGIL MM D: Keith Thomas. U.S. 88 min. Sep 11, 9:30 pm, Scotiabank 4 Sep 15, 4:30 pm, Scotiabank 2. Rating: NNN

Dark nights of the soul don’t get much darker than they do in The Vigil, a horror movie set in the Hasidic community of Brooklyn. And while there have been attempts to spin Jewish mythology into a spookhouse nightmare, they’re usually Dybbuk-based writer/director Thomas has chosen a different monster for his feature debut. But that would be telling.

The Vigil centres on Yakov (Dave Davis), a former Hasid who’s left the community after a tragedy and is drawn back in when a friend offers him a night’s work as a shomer, standing watch over a body until it can be claimed in the morning. There are restless things in the house and it’s not long before Yakov’s simple duty becomes a trial by fire – or at least candlelight.

The Vigil doesn’t break new ground for supernatural horror, exactly it’s your basic assortment of unnerving noises, jump scares and musical stings. But the context in which it’s all happening, and the intensity of Davis’s performance, makes it a worthy Midnight entry. Go get scared already.

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