So, I had seen a trailer for this film quite a while ago, and one night while scanning the horror section on Netflix, there it was. Without hesitation I dove into it, and I can easily say it was a great decision.
The Golem is a film from Doroan and Yoav Paz, starring Hani Furstenberg, Ishai Golan, Kirill Cernyakov, and Aleksey Tritenko. Not a cast of well known actors, but their performances within are truly stellar. Let's start with the film and plot first, then go into the details.
The film itself is very beautiful for its content. A brilliant period piece focusing on a very famous Jewish mythology. We can't go on without acknowledging that some inspiration had to come from the 1915 film, also titled The Golem. But whereas that film deals with a golem's rampage after falling in love with its creator’s daughter and not finding the love in return, this film deals with a bit of a role reversal. The golem is a boy, and its creator, Hanna (Hani Furstenberg) has created him to protect her community as it is threatened by outsiders who are blaming the Jews for the current plague outbreak.
The boy is a near identical image to a son Hanna had lost almost seven years prior, and her connection to it becomes increasingly disturbing. As the outsider’s threats come to fruition, the golem boy springs into action. The golem boy has some sort of power that allows him to cause other's heads to explode, so his power becomes overwhelming soon enough. The outsiders plan retaliation as the community becomes split on what to do with the golem. Tensions and body counts rise as the final act is riddled with death and destruction.
The cinematography was very well done. Each scene had me wrapped in the inner workings of this Jewish village, which eventually helps lend to the horror of the events that come. Many shots just had a solid impact and lasted with me after the film finished. There is an overall atmosphere of unease, which makes even some of the more docile scenes feel like they are walking on eggshells.
The movie's pacing was fine to me, but I have seen others complain at it being a bit slow. While there are some gaps in action, the overall sense of unease and dread create a tension that permeates through the film, making the lack of action not drag down the other scenes. Its a slow build, but it does have a good amount of sequences spread out to keep the viewer engaged.
The acting was also solid. Hani Furstenberg really dominates the film. Her presence fills each scene she is in, and her character's development over the entirety of the film is spectacular. Overall, the entire cast really gels together, and the whole film is really carried by multiple strong performances. The main villain Vladimir, played by Aleksey Tritenko, really is a vile character through and through. Also noteworthy is the golem boy himself, played by Kirill Cernyakov. He has no dialogue, but he is able to convey himself as simply a shell, something waiting for orders, and possibly, something evil as well.
Now let’s get to the only real issue I had with the film. Some of the gore and blood was very noticeably CG, and it was almost a bit of an eyesore in a few scenes. Everything else with the production of it felt well done, the most brutal action sequences felt a little off due to the clear digital effects. Really felt a bit off as the rest of the film seems very well done, but some of the effects feel like they are for a made for TV movie. However, they really didn't pull me out of the story or sequences that much, as the rest of the films ambiance can at times overshadow the gore.
I went into this film hoping to see a solid representation of Jewish folklore, not something you typically find in a period piece horror film, and it delivered. A slow burn that culminated in a savage ending, I was invested from the start. Go check it out on Netflix, its well worth it.