The Vigil. 2019. USA. Written and directed by Keith Thomas. With Dave Davis, Menashe Lustig, Malky Goldman, Fred Melamed, Lynn Cohen, Nati Rabinowitz. In English, Yiddish. 89 min.
As a source for screen horror, Jewish folklore may be less frequently represented than Christian traditions, but its roots in the history of the genre go back to silent-cinema classics like Der Golem (1915 and 1920 versions) and are equally significant. Shot on location in an Orthodox Brooklyn neighborhood, The Vigil follows a young, estranged member of the faith who skeptically accepts the task of sitting guard with the corpse of a recently deceased elder and is cursed to experience a night of demonic terror for hos trouble. The film channels anxiety about the dissolution of community and the threat of contemporary values to traditional beliefs and memory of the Holocaust. The late character actor Lynn Cohen caps a long, accomplished career with her chilling performance as an aged messenger of doom.