For the past couple years now, Epic Pictures and Dread Central Presents have aligned to bring several indie horror films to the world. A few of them I’ve even reviewed, most notably Director’s Cut (2016), The Lodgers (2017), Slay Belles (2018) and the cult hit Terrifier (2016). Recently however, Dread Central Presents has decided to rebrand their production image by removing the ‘Central Presents’ and going with the simple moniker of ‘DREAD’. So, let’s see what the newest release is that Epic and DREAD have in store for us, shall we?
The Golem (2018)
Lithuania 1673: A tiny secluded Jewish village sits in the middle of the countryside. Serene and peaceful the townsfolk go about their daily lives. Their peaceful lives are soon interrupted, when a band of Gentiles from a neighboring village invade their land. Covered in sores, these bandits are also bringing the plague with them and are demanding that they be healed. If their demands are not met, they will burn the little village to the ground. With the plague spreading to their front doorsteps, only one woman motivated by a tragic loss, has what it takes to summon an ancient being to help protect the village before it is too late…
The Golem was directed by the Paz brothers, Doron and Yoav (JeruZalem 2015) and was written by first time feature film writer Ariel Cohen. Together with the help of cinematographer Rotem Yaron, they brought 1670’s Lithuania with equal parts vibrant and bleak to life. When it comes to period pieces, they can be very hard to pull off. But, Yaron’s work behind the camera was incredibly atmospheric and so beautifully shot, that I almost felt like I was a part of the village. This film just looks amazing.
Hanna, the ill-fated woman left with the last resort of summoning the Golem is played by Hani Furstenberg (Mississippi Murder). Her portrayal was emotionally-charged with a sadness of loss and a hopefulness that she alone can protect her village. Her inspired performance drove the film.
Once she raises the Golem, we come to find that there’s a bit of twist in the ancient lore. Instead of summoning a towering 7-foot monster made out of dirt and clay, this Golem comes back as a creepy little boy who is played by Konstantin Anikienko. He did a really good job of exuding innocence and still being quite terrifying. He was a creepy little fucker.
The Golem was as I mentioned above, emotionally-charged. It was dreadfully slow, but at the same time, still cogent and engaging. Tonally, I was reminded of Robert Eggers’ divisive 2015 film The VVitch. Which in my opinion is a very good thing. Some may be put off by that comparison, so don’t go into this expecting that kind of film. Because if you can make it past the 80-minute mark, that’s when the movie kicks into 4th gear. There were some really good kills in this one! As the film concluded I was excited and saddened at the same time. My only real gripe was they needed to flesh out the Golem’s character more.
This film is not a true horror film in essence. Like some would say in The VVitch debate. It was just a damn good movie. It was heart-wrenching, horrific and at times hauntingly beautiful. Give this movie a chance if you’re on the fence about it.
…I’m glad I did.