THE GOLEM – Review by Susan Granger

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Delving deep into Jewish folklore, this saga begins with a brief prologue in Prague, showing a young girl, Perla, watching a rabbi grappling with the monstrous golem he created.

Then it’s 1673 in a Lithuanian shtetl, where Hanna (Hani Furstenberg), whose only son Josef died seven years ago, regularly eavesdrops on rabbinical meetings and is secretly studying Kabbalah.

Their tight-knit village is so isolated that, when a deadly plague strikes, they’re spared. As a result, neighboring Gentiles blame the Jews for their suffering.

When marauding Russians Invade Hanna’s sister’s wedding, they’re led by Vladimir (Alex Titenko), who demands that the Jews’ healer, now-grown Perla, cure his dying daughter Svetlana, threatening, “Fail – and I will burn this place to the ground.”

While the elderly, pacifist rabbi urges repentance and prayer, Hanna advocates fighting back. To do that, she sneaks into the synagogue to comb through the sacred texts for instructions on how to conjure a golem, ostensibly for protection.

The golem emerges as a grimy little boy, clutching a doll that belonged to Hanna’s son. When Perla spies Hanna lovingly washing dirt off this mysterious creature that she envisions as Josef’s reincarnation, she urges Hanna to destroy it by removing a holy scroll from its mouth as soon as Vladimir departs.

Meanwhile, after Hanna spies her husband Benjamin (Ishai Golan), the rabbi’s son, dining with a flirtatious neighbor, her inner anger propels the golem to stealthily murder the predatory woman. Obviously, Hanna and the golem share a deep, mystical bond.

Written by Ariel Cohen and directed by Israeli brothers Yoav and Doron Paz (Jeruzalem), it’s visibly influenced by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, including having the golem clad in Hanna’s hand-stitched tunic.

Inspired by the Golem of Prague myth, Yoav explains, “We wanted to make a new and relevant adaptation (with) a female heroine and unique twist…and a new genre was born: Jewish Horror.”

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, The Golem is a suspenseful, supernatural 6, a terror tale of revenge and redemption.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.