Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Golem is a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: A Film Review

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Directors: Doron Paz, Yoav Paz.

Writer: Ariel Cohen.

Cast: Hani Furstenberg, Ishai Golan, Brynie Furstenberg and Adi Kvetner.

The Golem is the latest original film from Dread Central Presents. Distributed by Epic Pictures earlier this month, this film was developed by Israeli filmmakers: Doron Paz and Yoav Paz. These are the same filmmakers behind the earlier horror film Jeruzalem (2015). Both film have been influenced by Jewish mythology and even the Frankenstein myth. Though, this creature is created through supernatural forces and not science. And, this Golem has a purpose, to save a small Jewish village from Christian raiders. Very much a creepy kid film, in the vein of The Omen (1976) or Children of the Corn (1984), this child terror shows a penchant for murder. The finale brings out his specialty in one of the better climaxes in indie horror. The Golem should be put on most indie horror fans to-buy list.

There are some influences, from other works, in The Golem - specifically Frankenstein. Both films deal with a human creator generating life, but not in the usual fun way. Instead, other methods are used, leading to a monster being created. The Prometheus myth takes center stage here as a grieving mother creates a protective creature, from the dirt. In the image of her dead child, this creature wears a stitched garment. The stitchings look like something from Frankensteins's face, in the early '50s, late night monster movies. However, this creature shows no emotion, nor does it ponder its creation. This golem is simply here to kill.

The central story focuses on Hannah (Hani Furstenberg). She is grief stricken after losing her son in a drowning accident. But now, she has even more difficulties. Another Lithuanian community is threatening her own. She turns to the Torah (Jewish Bible) for a solution. Inside the Torah, she finds the secret to creation, seventy-two secrets letters, which can spell God's hidden name. When she finds the solution, she creates something monstrous. Her child killer immediately sets to work - killing Hannah's enemies. However, Hannah loses people close to her, too. Once you let this child genie out of the bottle, it is hard to put it back.

The Golem reminded this viewer of other child killer films. It is hard, when looking at child actor Konstantin Anikienko, not to think of Damien from The Omen. Both characters look similar. As well, they are both possessed by evil, to do terrible things. Also, the child killers, in Children of the Corn, are motivated by supernatural forces to kill. The golem is equally spiritually moved by the same types of forces. Though, in Children of the Corn, the child killers are influenced by a Pagan God. Here, The golem is possessed by the force of the Jewish (and Christian) God. There are even elements of Tom Shankland's The Children (2008). In these films, the child killers go about their work with a dead expression, showing no remorse. Child killers, in film, are the worst as they show how innocence can be changed into something much more deadly.

Finally, the climax in The Golem is well set-up and executed. The conflict between two, very different communities keeps the tension high. Events boil over when one father loses his oldest daughter and blames it on the Jews. The final showdown comes at night as one group raids the other. The result is a fiery conflagration, with smoke everywhere. The golem really gets down to business, in a heart-ripping fashion. Villagers are set on fire. And, there really is no stopping this invincible butcher.

The Golem released on DVD and Blu-ray on February 5th. The DVD transfer leaves something to be desired, especially during night scenes. Potential buyers are encouraged to pick-up the Blu-ray, instead. As it is, The Golem is a great, indie horror film. Full of great storytelling and believable scenes, this film stands out for telling an original story. This myth has not really been put to film and it is a good one. It will be interesting to see what the Paz brothers come up with next as their filmmaking expertise continues to improve.

Overall: 7.25 out of 10.

A Trailer for the Film on 28DLA: The Golem Trailer on 28DLA

The Golem at Epic Pictures: The Golem Release Details at Epic

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