The Vigil (2019) – Film Review

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Director: Keith Thomas
Cast: Dave Davis, Malay Goldman, Lynn Cohen
Certificate: 15

by Roger Crow / @RogerCrow

A man providing overnight watch to a deceased member of his former Orthodox Jewish community finds himself opposite a malevolent entity. That’s the premise behind this relatively low budget chiller from writer/director Keith Thomas.

It takes a while to get going as our awkward hero comes to terms with the fact a young woman fancies him; they embark on a romance, and he discovers the joy of texting while keeping watch over the deceased.

The simple sight of a lone guy with his back to a corpse covered in a sheet is one of the oldest tricks in the horror book. It’s just a question of when it will move and how it will execute a series of nefarious plans. If it does, of course.

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“Rather effective”

Flashbacks to generic villains picking on the hero and a youngster tested the patience as much as a lengthy haggling scene when the protagonist agrees to sit and watch.

It’s a beautifully simple premise, and once things start happening (or don’t, as the case may be) there’s a chance for the chills to work their magic.

A creepy ’while you were sleeping’ gag via video phone message is a nice touch, and if you don’t watch many horror flicks then you may be suitably impressed.

The bone-crunching scenes are rather effective and it’s well put together, but the quiet, quiet BOOM! formula tests the patience.

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However, making horror films is a little like making pancakes. The first one usually turns out undercooked or burnt as the chef gets used to the right mix of ingredients and the right temperature at which to cook them.

Though this falls a little flat, I’m fascinated to see what Keith Thomas does with his take on that Stephen King classic Firestarter – if that mooted project ever sees the light of day.

It’s no genre classic, but The Vigil is still an interesting, low budget debut chiller which should generate the odd nightmare.

The Vigil is released in cinemas on 31st July

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