Why We’ll Be Watching “The Vigil”

The Vigil is a great movie to watch if you want to have chills running up and down your spine, every time it gets dark out since the nature of it is just downright creepy. But one of the best things about it is, and people can check this if they want, it’s unnervingly accurate, apart from the demonic spirit and the whole scare the living crap out of a person elements at least. One of the best things to note about this movie is that it does take into account the culture that it’s pulling from, making sure that the inclusive element is still working since Yakov, played by Dave Davis, is a man that’s definitely not the life of the party since he has to take a pill just to control his anxiety when around others, but he’s also called upon by a local rabbi to sit vigil for a recently deceased individual and act as a Shomer, which is easy enough to look up as they are those that serve as watchmen, and women, over the bodies of the recently deceased as they recite psalms to ward off evil spirits. The idea behind this is that after death, the spirit of the deceased might be confused and need guidance, or to be guarded against impure and unclean spirits that might lead it astray. This is the job of the Shomer, to sit vigil and ensure the safety and security of the recently deceased and their spirit for several days. According to historical texts, it’s a rather thankless job that is even seen as antiquated by those that have stepped away from the old ways but is still very much an important part of the culture.

However one feels about the custom, it’s still considered to be a great idea for a horror movie since the reliance upon Christian lore in movies has been done so often that it tends to feel stale and even overused at times given that there are literally hundreds of movies that have used some form of Christianity for one purpose or another. It would be interesting to see just how many people know what a Shomer is and why a vigil is so important to Jewish tradition. There have been horror movies that have featured Jewish elements to them, as well as many other dramatic and action-packed movies as well, but this is a gritty, darkened horror that definitely has the ability to be one of the more eye-opening features that would get people looking at historical texts and definitions to figure out what’s real and what has been exaggerated if anything has. It’s fairly easy to think that the demonic entity that is featured in the movie is bound to be hyped a bit more than usual since if one takes a look, and it’s likely debatable by some, demons aren’t seen in the same light when it comes this religious belief as they are by many others. In a big way, the Mazzikim, as this cultural menace has been labeled, is believed to be sent by God as punishment.

One might wonder how someone such as Yakov is deserving of such punishment since he appears to be a very quiet person that’s just trying to get by and get through life, but in a horror movie, there’s not always a well-defined reason why someone would be targeted, especially since when the dark starts to descend in such movies it’s not quite so discriminatory, as a person being in the same room as a dark spirit might find themselves being eviscerated or tormented just for being there. But from the way the trailer plays out it does appear that this movie is going to be filled with plenty of moments that will have audience members jumping and possibly screaming as they try to anticipate what might be coming. As with any horror movie, this one is bound to have a formula that it will follow, but until one really sits down to watch it they won’t be likely to see how it conforms to the norms in its own way. Just watching the trailer it does feel as though it’s going to provide a very impressive array of scares that will come in a very recognizable form but take on a different appearance, as is expected. Whether this will spark a new line of horror movies that will pull from Jewish culture is difficult to determine since the idea of a golem has been used, but perhaps not enough in recent years. It would be interesting to see how more culturally-adept movies could be made, since every culture has its own mythology or one that they share with others, and it could be a great way to educate people and entertain them at the same time.

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