The Vigil is a rare horror that is a fusion of ancient Jewish traditions and a limited setting. The Vigil is a unique horror film by Keith Thomas under the famous producer Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions. This film stars names that are still foreign, namely Dave Davis, Menashe Lustig, Lynn Cohen, and Milky Goldman. Apart from an Asian adaptation horror film, The Vigil is a horror film close to our traditions, which would undoubtedly be very frightening for audiences in this country.

Vigil is a tradition of guarding the corpse against night to morning. This tradition is intended to not see the corpse by evil forces who want to take its spirit by reading specific prayers. Once upon a time, Yakov (Davis) was asked to become the Shumer (body keeper) of a Jewish citizen who died in his neighborhood. Due to the tight economic situation, Yakov did not decline the offer. The body was an older man whose wife, Mrs. Litvak, still lived with him in a small flat. Yakov also carried out his duties in a relaxed manner, not until he realized that something was wrong in the house.

The Vigil is possibly a western horror film with the scariest premise I have ever watched. Just imagine that sitting close to a corpse from midnight to morning is not a very pleasant situation without any horror tricks. The atmosphere built by mise_en_scene is already horrifying and is guaranteed to make us sit uncomfortably. Anything can happen. I look forward to a big surprise from this one-story and simple story setting. Unfortunately, the development of the story is unable to bite as hard as the premise. It’s not bad at all; it’s just that we’ve seen this before. Yakov’s past trauma also makes it easier for viewers to see the film’s story’s direction. This kind of psychological horror playing with mind tricks is very tricky and has almost no story rules. Anything can happen, and this is what I don’t like.

The Vigil was unable to make full use of the premise, the potential depth of the theme, and the terrifying mise_en_scene through the use of familiar horror mind-tricks. I feel like something is missing here. Someone fluent with this tradition might see it from a different perspective. This is the biggest problem. This story cannot provide sufficient information about this tradition, such as what is permissible and what is not, and what the consequences will be if it is violated. If the boundaries are blurred, it will also obscure the viewer’s perspective. We cannot understand the tradition’s depth other than just the surprises and horror tricks that we have often encountered in the genre.

 Stay safe and healthy!

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His hobby has been watching films since childhood, and he studied film theory and history autodidactically after graduating from architectural studies. He started writing articles and reviewing films in 2006. Due to his experience, the author was drawn to become a teaching staff at the private Television and Film Academy in Yogyakarta, where he taught Film History, Introduction to Film Art, and Film Theory from 2003 to 2019. His debut film book, "Understanding Film," was published in 2008, which divides film art into narrative and cinematic elements. The second edition of the book, "Understanding Film," was published in 2018. This book has become a favorite reference for film and communication academics throughout Indonesia. He was also involved in writing the Montase Film Bulletin Compilation Book Vol. 1-3 and "30 Best Selling Indonesian Films 2012-2018." Additionally, he authored the "Horror Film Book: From Caligari to Hereditary" (2023) and "Indonesian Horror Film: Rising from the Grave" (2023). Until now, he continues to write reviews of the latest films at and is actively involved in all film productions at the Montase Film Community. His short films have received high appreciation at many festivals, both local and international. Recently, his writing was included in the shortlist (top 15) of Best Film Criticism at the 2022 Indonesian Film Festival. From 2022 until now, he has also been a practitioner-lecturer for the Film Criticism and Film Theory courses at the Yogyakarta Indonesian Institute of the Arts in the Independent Practitioner Program.


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