Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with host Jennifer Burke to have a look at the new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the family drama “Minari” (Premium digital and on-demand), the supernatural thriller “The Vigil” (Select theatres and VOD), the high school crime story “The Sinners” (VOD) and the courtroom drama “The Last Vermeer” (VOD).
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the family drama “Minari” (Premium digital and on-demand), the supernatural thriller “The Vigil” (Select theatres and VOD), the high school crime story “The Sinners” (VOD) and the courtroom drama “The Last Vermeer” (VOD).
“The Vigil,” the first film from novelist-turned-director Keith Thomas and now available on VOD, is low fi movie with high fi horror.
When we first meet Yakov (Dave Davis) he is at a support group for Orthodox Jews adapting to life outside of Brooklyn, New York’s Hasidic community. Still adjusting to his new life, he’s unemployed, struggling to make ends meet. When his friend Reb Shulem (Menashe Lustig) approaches him with the offer of a job, he has no choice but to accept. For one night he will act as a Shomer, a guardian in the Jewish tradition, and watch over the dead body of Holocaust survivor Mr. Litvak (Ronald Cohen) until the time of burial.
Arriving at the house for the overnight stay, he’s greeted by Mrs. Litvak (Lynn Cohen) who warns him to leave. After Reb explains that she is suffering from Alzheimer’s, Yakov begins his solemn duty, watching over the shrouded Mr. Litvak.
Soon, as lights begin to flicker Yakov thinks he sees something scurry across the floor. But the true terror awaits as he uncovers a video detailing the ancient demon, the Mazzik, that attached itself to Mr. Litvak when he left Buchenwald.
“The Vigil” is a horror film that trades in the supernatural as much as the psychological. The shocks are born from director Thomas’s effective use of jump scares and things that go bump in the night, but the real terror here is intangible.
It is the reliving of memories, as Mr. Litvak says in the video, “the looking backwards” at the anti-Semitic horrors that shaped all their lives. We learn of the fate of Mrs. Livak’s father in the Kiev pogroms of 1919, Mr. Livak’s treatment at the hands of the Nazi’s and the recent violence that prompted Yakov to leave his faith. They are, as Mrs. Litvak says, “broken by memories,” the inescapable weight that they carry.
“The Vigil” brings the horror out of the corners of the mind, and just possibly offers an avenue for Yakov’s catharsis and return to his faith, but not before presenting a deeply unsettling story.
Formatted almost like a film school lecture, “Leap of Faith,” a new documentary about the making of “The Exorcist” and now streaming on Shudder, is a master class in how a classic movie was made.
In the almost fifty years after the release of a movie that was heralded as everything from “religious porn” to “pure cinematic terror,” “The Exorcist” has not lacked for critical analysis. Thousands of gallons of ink have been spilled printing books and articles on the subject while in the internet age everyone who has ever stepped into a theatre seems to have written something about the film. “Leap of Faith” does everyone who has ever posited an opinion on the film’s meaning one better. It goes to the source with an in-depth interview with the movie’s director William Friedkin.
Documentary filmmaker Alexandre O. Philippe goes long with the director on the creative process, nailing down the definitive stories of how the 1973 horror film came to be. Much of the information was covered in the 2014 autobiography, “The Friedkin Connection,” but here the director’s way with a story and Philippe’s use of visuals makes the stories cinematic.
This isn’t a casual fan doc. Friedkin and Philippe dig deep to uncover the film’s visual influences—everything from Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1955 “Ordet” to Magritte’s “The Empire of Light” series—to how recording the score ended a long-time friendship. There is great detail on the casting, the filming of controversial scenes and why star Max von Sydow, who once played Jesus in a film, had so much trouble performing one of “The Exorcist’s” most pious and famous sequences.
Over and over Friedkin talks about following his instincts and making decisions that either seemed counterintuitive or deemed too costly by the studio. “I didn’t question my instincts,” he says, which I suppose is at least part of the reason the film is called “Leap of Faith.” There’s the obvious reason and then there’s the small leaps of faith that those working with Friedkin had to take along the way. Hearing about his battles with everyone from studio heads on down to get his vision to the screen is an interesting reminder of Hollywood when creative vison could trump corporate interference.
“Leap of Faith” isn’t a flashy film. It’s a detailed, if straightforward, making of documentary that connects the dots between the filmmaker and his faith in an interesting, if long winded way.