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Split in Two

The Golem follows a woman in a small Jewish community around the 17th century who succeeds in summoning a golem to protect her people from a violent group of outsiders that blame her village for a plague that is tearing through the countryside.

The Golem Review

Like Efrit with the Wendigo, I have always had an interest in the golem mythos. It has had countless iterations over the years, from its origins as a Jewish symbol to a Pokemon. In its most common and recognized form, the golem is a large being summoned from entirely artificial or inorganic material to do the bidding of the summoner. The most famous story of the Hebrew golem follows a similar path, in which the golem was used to protect a village, but with its absent intelligence and brutal nature, went on an uncontrollable murder spree.

The Golem appears to follow this form of the golem with an admirable attempt towards accuracy. The opening scene alludes to this famous tale with a massive form obliterating a group of people and the surviving rabbi attempting to remove the piece of parchment paper from its mouth, which would abruptly bring an end to the creature.

I am incredibly torn on my feelings for this film...on the one hand, it appears to put quite a bit of research to work in regards to its reenactment of Jewish traditions and the origins of golem summoning through the Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism). It also used the golem creature to weave a solemn tale about a mother's loss of her child. I usually hold quite a bit of respect for films willing to use horror as a vehicle for commentary.

But on the other hand, the child-like form of the golem that persists in the entirety of the film's runtime outside of the opening scene, feels cheap, especially after the promising mass of mud we get a glimpse of at the beginning. The child golem is used to great affect in the character development, but from a horror perspective is laughable. Unlike the unsettling Damien from The Omen, this child golem symbolizes the tragic state of the mother rather than instilling fear in the audience. Its awkward, lazy use of what behaves like telekinesis for most of its violence is more funny than scary, killing the mood particularly in the final act.

The acting is subpar outside of the respectable mother lead (Hani Furstenberg). The score is laughably over-dramatic on numerous occasions, cheapening the impact of the film. The effects work is weak, opting for shaky camera work to hide effects that already feel like an afterthought.

The film feels like it couldn't decide what it wanted to be; a somber telling of a mother's loss through the golem mythos or a dark, brutal reimagining of the golem's gruesome history. And maybe it's that struggle to create a cohesive concept that has led me to struggle with my own decision on whether I liked the film or not. In the end, it's pretty clear to me that the film was far more intriguing in concept and was disappointing in its uneven execution.

Horror Rating System

Horror Qualifier: 7/10

Horror Quality: 4/10

Film Quality: 4/10

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