Here we have an Israeli horror movie set in 1673 Lithuania, filmed in Ukraine and spoken in English. This international approach is what grabbed my attention in the first place, then I’ve seen the trailer posted on Twitter and in many Facebook groups, so I watched it on Amazon Prime.
The core of the film follows Hanna and her husband Benjamin, who live in a small Jewish community that is fortunately not affected by a deadly plague that’s killing a huge portion of the Lithuanian population. This, of course, gains the community a huge and unwanted attention from ‘foreign’ invaders: to save her people, Hanna conjures an entity – the titular Golem – to protect the village. She, however, underestimates the power of what she summoned and, now, the Jewish community must face two different threats.
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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My review is also available on IMDb – The Golem (2018)
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Despite being presented as a mythological tale that’s set far back in time, the opening scene is very loud and obnoxious, which doesn’t really establish the atmospheric and creepy tone you’d expect going into a horror movie. Even though I would hate to sit through a movie that’s totally reliant on such headache-inducing garbage, I was even more shocked by the lack of action and tension throughout most of The Golem.
In fact, the biggest issue with the movie is this tonal problem: the moments that are supposed to build up tension, develop the story and explore the characters are just devoid of any interesting dialogue or emotions; at the same time, the horror-related sequences feature quite some laughable and over-the-top gore, combined with an overbearing soundtrack that’s not scary, just annoying.
On the positive side, the filmmakers didn’t play it safe: instead of playing the jump-scares card, The Golem relies mostly on extreme violence and gore. It’s just a shame that both violence and gore are either poorly executed with shitty CGI or created with subpar practical effects and makeup.
I also appreciated the attempt at social commentary about Jewish culture and how it’s been mistreated and used as an excuse to find a public enemy. However, even in this regard the message is obvious to the point it becomes too in-your-face to be effective.
Unfortunately, for me there isn’t a lot to say about The Golem: every aspect I didn’t mention yet falls in the middle. Acting, cinematography, camera-work, character development, continuity… it’s all fine, nothing more, nothing less.
One aspect that really bothered me is the fact that this quite original and interesting setting is just utilised as a frame in which the typical, thirteen-in-a-dozen horror flick elements play out: this movie is really, at its core, nothing more than a mediocre version of these possession flicks we’ve seen so many times over the last 20 years.
If you want to stick to movies with the word ‘golem’ in the title, click on the images below to get a copy of The Golem (1920) and The Limehouse Golem (2017).
The Golem (2018) 4/10
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