Screamfest Movie Review: THE GOLEM (2018)

  The Golem

The Golem

For centuries the story of the golem, a magical supernatural being made from clay, was discussed in Jewish folklore. Directors Doron and Yoaz Paz resurrect the story of a sort of Jewish Frankenstein that hasn't been told in 100 years. THE GOLEM features a deep and layered narrative with beautiful cinematography and lighting. 

On the surface the film is about a woman's struggle to save her Jewish village in Prague, from deadly plague and gentile invaders. Desperate measures are taken to protect herself and her loved ones but she is faced with dealing with unintended consequences.

Drawing on themes of grief and loss, sexism, Jewish traditions, sickness and village life, THE GOLEM provides a unique narrative not often represented in horror. Whereas many horror films comment of Christian conceptualizations of good and evil, angels and demons, and God and the devil, THE GOLEM provides a very different reference point to explore supernatural beings. The monster also takes on a surprising twist and Kabbalic myths are explored and translated. The film overall is arguably less scary and more suspenseful. 

With a slow build, character development is focused on heavily. The protagonist, Hannah, played by Hani Furstenberg, embodies a strong independent woman that is easy to rally behind and connect with. Her story of rising up against the patriarchy, educating herself, taking control of her reproductive health, and coming to terms with grief and loss creates the main story arc. Talented acting, particular historic and Jewish reference point, and captivating cinematography makes this film a unique offering at 2018 Screamfest.

As a person of Jewish heritage, I was very intrigued by learning about life in the old country and Jewish traditions. Seeing what my grandfather would call a bubbameister or bubbe-meise, which is Yiddish for old wive’s tale, come to life on the big screen was very compelling. Despite your cultural background, history buffs, Frankenstein enthusiasts, and suspense junkies will likely enjoy this film. The slow unraveling of the narrative nature of the film requires focus and dedication that demands your attention. Set aside a couple hours, cozy up with some popcorn, and enjoy THE GOLEM.