AJFF 2019: Beware THE GOLEM

The Paz Bros are an interesting filmmaking duo. Their debut film, Jeruzalem, was a strange take on the found footage genre. They took that highly predictable format that we have all been burned out on and breathed some new life into it with some less traversed themes… Jewish folklore. While this film is far from perfect, it was still remarkably watchable and they managed to make something both creepy and interesting. This next go around, they are doubling down on this format and retelling the story of The Golem. This is (somewhat) a remake of the 1920 silent film, but this team of filmmakers have injected a lot more story and heart into what could have just been a bland remake. While I am not in love with this movie, I think this is the right way to remake a film: take the bones of the original and then try your best to make something uniquely “you” from it. That is something that The Golem excels in!

A brief synopsis:

During an outbreak of a deadly plague, a mystical woman must save her tight-knit Jewish community from foreign invaders, but the entity she conjures to protect them is a far greater evil.

The Golem does more right then just how they approach the source material. They also put together something that feels very big in a lot of ways. The story feels epic and (frankly) really big budget, with beautiful outdoor sets and amazing costuming. I don’t know what their budget was, but they used all the tricks in the book to put every dollar on the screen and it works. I never felt like I was watching a low budget creature feature, even during the scenes that were just that. I hope that doesn’t seem dismissive, because that is what this is. Just done much better than most could ever dream of. When the violence occurs, it is brutal and gory but you never feel like you are leaving the world that they have created. Even When heads are being crushed, it still feels like a well shot period piece made on a Hollywood level budget.

With all of that said, there are still a few things that didn’t work for me. The big one being The Golem itself. The monster is revealed quickly to be a child and it never becomes more than that. I understand that the story calls for this, but I would have loved to see it become something more than just that. It might work well for some, but I just love seeing monsters on screen and felt like it was a lost opportunity. The other being the breakneck speed of the plot. At about the halfway mark it begins to move very fast and feels like it may have been edited down for time. I rarely bitch about this, but I enjoyed the story being told and would not have minded letting the plot breath a little and leaving these deleted scenes in the final film. Those two gripes aside, I still feel like this is a solid entry into the Monster Movie genre and urge folks to see the film.

The Golem is currently available from all major VOD outlets, Blu-ray, and DVD.

Blaine McLaren
Blaine McLaren was born in Texas, but has called Atlanta his home for over 20 years. He has spent a lifetime obsessed with cinematic oddities, with a soft spot for rubber monster flicks and gore soaked head scratchers. He is the lead writer and owner of mondomclaren.com and is a regular contributor for multiple sites and podcasts.
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