Ever since The Exorcist, the religious horror genre has pretty much belonged exclusively to Roman Catholics. But instead of yet another demonic possession story with growling little girls and screaming priests wielding crucifixes, how about mining one of the world’s many other faiths for scary stories? The Vigil, coming later this month from IFC Films, is a rare break from the norm — a Jewish horror film.
Yakov (no relation to Smirnov) is a former member of a tight-knit religious community in Brooklyn’s Hasidic neighborhood who’s fallen out of the circle — or so he thinks. His former rabbi approaches him with an offer: he needs somebody to take the job of a “shomer,” an all-night vigil over the body of a recently perished friend, as he can’t currently do it. Yakov accepts. But when he arrives at the spooky, broken-down dwelling to perform the vigil, he senses something isn’t quite right…that’s all the movie creators will let us know. You’ll have to watch to discover the truth!
“If you’ve come to [The Vigil] for a thrill, I hope you enjoy it and it troubles your sleep,” says creator Kevin Thomas. “If you’ve come to it for a glimpse into a cloistered world few secular people know, I’ll assure you that it is authentic. Regardless of the reason you’re watching The Vigil, I hope you find something in our little story that haunts you.”
The Vigil stars Dave Davis, Malky Goldman, Menashe Lustig and Lynn Cohen, produced by Raphael Margules, J.D. Lifshitz and Adam Margules, and was written and directed by Keith Thomas. You’ll be able to check it out February 26 in select theaters and some VOD platforms.
Steeped in ancient Jewish lore and demonology, THE VIGIL is supernatural horror film set over the course of a single evening in Brooklyn’s Hasidic Borough Park neighborhood. Low on funds and having recently left his insular religious community, Yakov (Dave Davis) reluctantly accepts an offer from his former rabbi and confidante (Menashe Lustig) to take on the responsibility of an overnight “shomer,” fulfilling the Jewish practice of watching over the body of a deceased community member. Shortly after arriving at the recently departed’s dilapidated house to sit the vigil, Yakov begins to realize that something is very, very wrong.