(director: Oliver Park; screenwriters: Hank Hoffman/from a story by Hoffman, Jonathan Yunger; cinematographer: Lorenzo Senatore.; editors: Michael J. Duthie, Simon Pierce; music: Christopher Young; cast: Nick Blood (Art), Emily Wiseman (Claire), Allan Corduner (Saul), Paul Kaye (Heimish), Daniel Ben-Zenou (Chayim), Sofia Weldon (Sarah Scheindal), Anton Trendafilov (Yossille), Velizar Binev (Moishe), Meglena Karalambova (Aida), Jonathan Yunger (Levi Siegelman), Jodie Jacobs (Chana); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Les Weldon, Yariv Lerner, Jeffrey Greenstein, Jonathan Yunger, Hank Hoffman, Sam Schulte; A Decal release; 2022-USA/UK/Bulgaria-in English)
“Haunting Jewish horror folklore.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Oliver Park (“Strange Events”/”A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio”) directs this low-budget haunting Jewish horror folklore film, filmed in Bulgaria (subbing for Brooklyn), whose tagline is ‘that no soul is safe.’ It’s based on a story by Hank Hoffman and is co-written by Hoffman and Jonathan Yunger. It gives a twist to the familiar horror trope.
Arthur (Nick Blood) is returning to his Hasidic roots in Brooklyn with his gentile pregnant wife Claire (Emily Wiseman) for what will be a tense reunion with his uptight family after he denounced the community. While his gentle father Saul (Allan Corduner) receives him in an accepting way, he’s coldly received by other family members like Heimish (Paul Kaye).
Art’s mortician father buries a corpse in his funeral home, as his son dresses the body of the dead scholar. An amulet on the corpse releases a supernatural demon (the goat-headed Abyzou) that takes possession of Claire’s unborn child. It recalls gloomy Old World stories from the kabbalah.
Tension builds as the rituals for burial are carried out according to Orthodox Jewish tradition.
Though the tale is creaky and the acting is stilted, the eerie atmosphere and jump scares can make you a believer in superstitions if you let yourself.
It screened at the Fantastic Fest.
REVIEWED ON 2/1/2023 GRADE: B-