Parents' Guide to

The Vigil

By Kat Halstead, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Supernatural horror has strong threat and language.

Movie PG-13 2021 89 minutes
The Vigil Poster Image

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Is It Any Good?

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Kids say (1):

While Christian mysticism has been mined relentlessly in the horror genre, basing a movie so completely in Jewish superstition is relatively new territory. In his first feature film, The Vigil's writer-director Keith Thomas creates an authentic setting for Davis' strong central performance to shine, maintaining a masterful naturalism while pushing the horror to just the right level.

The scares themselves are generic but well executed, all flickering lights and things that go bump in the night, with some more techno-horror thrown in for the FaceTime generation. The demon itself -- the dybbuk, with its backwards facing head and desire to feed off others' pain -- is used cleverly to represent the past and both Yakov's individual pain and the collective, historical trauma of the Jewish community. Its refusal to let Yakov leave the house drawing parallels to being unable to move on from the past or perhaps Yakov's own struggle to fully cut ties with his Hasidic roots. The stillness of the camera, tight framing, and moments of extended silence ramp up the tension, with the covered body looming in almost every shot as though biding its time. Well-crafted and strong on the psychological elements -- thanks as much to Thomas' writing as Davis' portrayal -- this is a solid horror with some interesting subtext.

Movie Details

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