M.L. Miller here! Welcome horror fans to my Annual countdown of the Best of the Best in Horror! Running every day through October, this list will culminate with the best horror film of the year announced on October 31st. Some of these films can be found in theaters—others have unfortunately only seen the light of day On Demand, DVD, BluRay, or digital download. I’ve tried to indicate in the reviews how you can watch and enjoy these films yourselves. I’ll also provide a “Worth Noting” secondary film suggestion in a separate post. These are films that stood out or just missed being on the list by a skosh—a little extra for those who can’t get enough horror.
How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st 2018 and September 30, 2019 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number, 31. This countdown is not for the elitists or festival goers, so if the film hasn’t been released to the masses, it won’t be on the list. Also anything released this October will most likely be on next year’s list—so sorry, no films like DOCTOR SLEEP or ZOMBIELAND 2 just yet.
I hope you’ll join me daily and don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
#22 THE GOLEM
One of the best “evil child” movies of the year is THE GOLEM. This is one I sat on for a while before watching and after watching it, was began kicking myself for doing so. Released on February 5, 2019 and now available on Netflix, here’s my review of THE GOLEM! Available on Netflix! Also available on DVD/BluRay, digital download, and On Demand
THE GOLEM (2018)
Directed by Doron Paz, Yoav Paz
Written by Ariel Cohen
Starring Hani Furstenberg, Ishai Golan, Brynie Furstenberg, Lenny Ravitz, Aleksey Tritenko, Adi Kvetner, Mariya Khomutova, Veronika Shostak, Gennadiy Kuleshov, Katya Gaydak, Il’ya Tiltikoff, Ekaterina Voronina, Konstantin Anikienko, Oleh Voloschenko, Arsen Strilets, Nazar Strilets, Evelina Kosheleva, Olga Safronova, & Kirill Cernyakov as the Golem Kid!
There have been a lot of “evil child” horror films of late. Maybe it’s riffing off of THE BABADOOK from a few years ago. Or maybe it’s just that evil kids are always something worth making a horror film about because it subverts the expectation of those innocent little faces. Either way, while there were a lot of those types of films out there this year, only a few of them were worth checking out. One of them is THE GOLEM—a powerful tale of tradition, remorse, and revenge.
Hanna (Hani Furstenberg) is a headstrong Jewish woman living in an isolated 17th century community. Married to Benjamin (Ishai Golan) the son of the lead Rabbi, the two of them lost their young son recently and are trying to have another child, but they can’t seem to make it happen— making Hanna a pariah to the community. When a plague reaches the edge of their closed village, the warlords in the neighboring land blame the Jewish people for it since they are unaffected. In order to protect the village, Hanna does what no one is willing to do—consult the ancient books and create a Golem, a highly destructive creature that protects the Jewish community. But the Golem Hanna creates resembles her lost son and when it is time to be rid of the creature, Hanna finds it difficult to do, leaving the monster free to attack anyone in its path.
THE GOLEM is a slow burner, but once it gets hot, it is smoldering. I’m unfamiliar with a lot of the Jewish tradition, so I found the attention paid to the traditions and rituals of this culture was pretty fascinating. This is a film that seems to have gone great lengths to make the village, the costumes, and the culture look and feel authentic. This culture also included the belief that women were lesser members of the community than the men, reserved to homemaking roles and leaving the religious rituals and village legislature to the men of the community. Casting Furstenberg as a strong willed woman runs her in direct conflict with the culture she is in and proves to be the main conflict of the film. When the elders of the village refuse to fight against the warlords infected with the plague, Hanna is the only one with the guts to consult the Kabballah and create a Golem. There is definitely a strong feminist message communicated in this film, but more importantly, this is a personal tale of a woman’s grief having lost her child and the lengths she will go to get that child back.
But while this is a slow burner, once it gets going and we get to know the characters and culture, the blood starts flying in all directions. The Golem (played by little Kirill Cernyakov) has a sort of destructive power that makes people explode into large chunks and gallons of blood spatter merely by thinking about it. He also likes to tear people’s limbs off. Once the invaders attack, this quiet film about the Jewish culture becomes a blood-smeared gorefest.
THE GOLEM is a complex and sophisticated take on loss and the role of women in Jewish culture. Just as the Golem is a destructive force of nature, it highlights how Hanna’s hard-headedness challenges the Jewish community itself. Serving as a sort of remake or reimagining of the 1920 silent film, THE GOLEM reintroduces the formidable monster in this modern age. As much an intense drama as it is a horror film, THE GOLEM is highbrow horror worth checking out.
THE COUNTDOWN SO FAR…
#22 –THE GOLEM
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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