Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
Yakov (Dave Davis) is out of his element and struggling with PTSD. He gets asked one evening to be a shomer (watching over the body) for a recently deceased Holocaust survivor at their home. Yakov needs the money, so he agrees. But soon after arriving at the house, Yakov starts hearing and seeing very chilling and gross things. And he might not survive the night.
While knowing and understanding Yiddish folklore might help, I was pleasantly surprised with how good The Vigil turned-out to be – especially for a directorial debut. Writer/Director Keith Thomas uses every lesson he has learned from Horror movies, and crafts a film that effectively is creepy and spooky right from the start. He uses each element at his disposal to build up the dread in each scene and turns up the atmosphere considerably whenever he can. And while the jump scares are typical and predictable, the Score and sound design are used so effectively that they practically become even scarier. What The Vigil could have benefitted from was a better lighting scheme, as some scenes look substantially darker than they need to be. Davis, acting basically in his own one-man show, is astonishingly great here as well, controlling every scene and emotion like a seasoned vet.
THE VIGIL screens during TIFF at the following times:
Monday September 9, 11:59pm @ Ryerson Theatre [World Premiere]
Wednesday September 11, 9:30pm @ Scotiabank Theatre
Sunday September 15, 4:30pm @ Scotiabank Theatre
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