Written by: Matt Patti | July 29th, 2021
Lilith (Alexander T. Hwang, 2018) 2½ out of 4 stars.
Director Alexander T. Hwang’s Lilith is an anthology film that follows the titular demon, an entity that tortures and murders men for their vile actions towards women. The film features four separate stories, all instances of a man mistreating a woman (or partaking in even worse activities) and, in each one, Lilith appears. The film’s concept intrigued me, and I went in expecting a scary-yet-satisfying film in which evildoers are punished for their behavior. Ultimately, that’s exactly what the film delivers. However, my hopes were not high after the film’s opening scene. That opening sequence involves abysmal acting, unimpressive shots and cheap effects, and after viewing that I was almost already ready to declare Lilith dead in the water. However, after that very cheesy and cringeworthy beginning, the film becomes much more compelling.
In each entry, a man harms a woman in some way, the woman suffers, and the vengeful spirit of Lilith, disguised as another woman, visits the man … and horrors ensue. Yet it never feels repetitive. Is it predictable? Yes, at times. But each story is so different than the others that surprises are still possible and interest is kept. Plus, the satisfaction of witnessing justice for some of these poorly treated women at the hands of a terrifying spirit really keeps the audience engaged. The film also raises many intriguing questions. Lilith plays with her victims before she strikes, and many thought-provoking discussions are had about life and death, morals and what people are willing to do to try to escape their inevitable fate. The dialogue in the script is well written to lend to this, though sometimes the actors go a little over the top in delivery.
The central character of the film, Detective Ryan Carson (Thomas Haley, Paranormal Attraction), is present throughout, appearing at least partially in each story, after being personally involved in the very first one. He’s a character that is easy to root for, being a victim of tragedy and an all-around likeable, good person. Haley delivers a believable and grounded performance. The rest of the cast is hit-or-miss, though. The standout for me is Brialynn Massie (Serena Waits), as Brooke, Carson’s daughter, who delivers a very emotionally gripping turn. Also, the men in each of the segments play their roles very well. However, much of the other cast is ho-hum and forgettable, with some sore spots sticking out, specifically the performance of that one specific character in the opening scene.
Unfortunately, Lilith is plagued with technical issues and low production values, even after the first scene. The film has an overall look and feel of a very low-budget amateur movie, which may prove off-putting for some. The poor effects and obvious CGI also don’t help the case. The editing is also sub-par, almost dipping to the level of a student film at times. There’s a lot to dislike, technically. However, as I got sucked into each story, it’s as if these issues disappeared. Did they really? Or, perhaps was I that invested in the film that I simply did not notice the otherwise glaring issues the film had had before? I’m leaning towards the latter.
If one can overlook some of the painfully obvious technical shortcomings of Lilith, I do believe there is plenty to enjoy within. Some of the performances are unsatisfactory and the film’s ending leaves a bit to be desired. However, overall, if the idea of a terrifying spirit taking on the look of a human woman and punishing horrible men who have done unthinkable things to other women sounds like an amusing, and devilishly satisfying, plot to you, I think the film will entertain. I certainly enjoyed it for what it was.