DIRECTOR: Liam Gavin
WRITER: Liam Gavin
When Sophia Howard loses her seven-year-old son, she decides to hire an occultist by the name of Joseph Solomon. She hopes that he will able to help her perform a dark ritual that will allow her to speak or see her young son again. Aware of the risks, she rents a house in the countryside of Ireland, both Sophia and Joseph batten down the hatches and begin the ritual but will they summon something much darker than both ever anticipated?
Looking at the poster for this film that is featured on IMDb, I was initially afraid. The poster seemed very similar to a lot of the generic found footage, religious horror films from years past. Going into A Dark Song, I didn't have high hopes for this one. I was already under the impression that I would be sitting down the next day to bang out a negative review for the film. Not the best way to start off watching a movie or being in that headspace but marketing a movie is a make or break it situation these days.
A Dark Song is a very slow burn sort of horror film. The movie spends a vast majority of its runtime building towards an incredibly intense final. If you're looking for a film that's heavy on the chills, thrills and filled with horror, you may be left disappointed. This is all about the build-up, tone, and mood. Early on in the movie, I found myself starting to grow impatient. It wasn't until they began preparing for the ritual that I found my interest beginning to spike with the story.
Once these two characters start delving into the ritual, things start to go from bad to worse, and that's where the movie really grew on me. Things get very interesting as well as intense. I think due to the fact that we are never really told or given much in the way of what will actually happen if they manage to complete the ritual, it makes everything that much more intensified. We rely on these two characters who start to get affected by the dark energy but just how dark will this ritual become if they finally succeed in completing it? I really enjoyed the build-up of it.
Being that this is a movie that is set in one house with two characters, I thought the actors did a pretty incredible job. I felt very sympathetic towards Catherine Walker's Sophia. A woman who has lost her only son and only wants to communicate with him again. She does the whole grieving thing exceptionally well. When she begins to lose her grip on reality, I was loving her performance. Steve Oram as Joseph, the occultist, is excellent as well. He plays a man so unlikable that he does a couple of things in the movie that made my blood boil. He was a great counterbalance to the grief shown by Sophia. I thought that they had a great dynamic.
Where A Dark Song loses a couple of points with me is that the whole concept behind it felt very similar to another movie. That film is The Other Side Of The Door. Both of the movies feature a mother who is dealing with loss, they decide to do a ritual that will allow them to speak to their dead children again and things turn very sour. Both movies also have very similar looks when it comes to the reveal of the darker forces who come to wreak havoc on our lead characters. One just happens to take things a lot further and is much more graphic.
When it comes to being a scary horror film, I thought that this movie had a few solid moments. The film is very slow burn as mentioned in the beginning. Once it gets into the final twenty minutes of the movie, we get some creepy imagery, and a couple of decent jump scares. There is a scene involving a candle that made the hairs on my neck stand up. Once we start to witness the supernatural elements, I was thoroughly unnerved even if some scenes involving children behind doors seemed very familiar.
The gore and violence in A Dark Song is excellent. While it isn't given to the audience by the bucket load, when it happens, I found myself wincing in one particular scene. There is a scene where our occultist character tumbles onto a kitchen knife that goes through his lower abdomen. The scene requires that our grieving mother removes the knife. It looked almost real. I think the makeup effects in this film are standout. Just excellent. It's not overused but enough to make the scenes that feature them, really well done.
Lastly, the cinematography needs to be mentioned. This is a gorgeous looking film. Filmed in Ireland, a lot of the scenes that feature scenic or landscape shots are just wonderous. It really shows just how beautiful Ireland is. For a first time filmmaker, Liam Gavin has crafted a great looking film. This isn't special effects heavy or large budgeted but he works with what he's got, and he makes the most of it. I can't wait to see what he does when he has a budget and bigger vision. I do hope Liam Gavin sticks with horror films as he's very talented.
DEATH TOLL: 1
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A dead dog covered in maggots.
- A woman is shown drinking blood.
- A man drowns a woman in a bathtub.
- A knife is removed from a man's stomach.
- A pus infected wound.
- A woman is shown bleeding from the head.
A Dark Song is a movie that I think will split audiences straight down the middle. It's a slow burn, the ending may divide people, and one of the main two characters isn't very likable at all. The movie also feels very similar to last year's The Other Side Of The Door. Where this movie succeeds is once it gets itself moving, it's an incredibly dark, atmospheric and the acting is excellent. The film also looks gorgeous. This isn't a film that gives you all the answers right away and may leave people with questions, but if you stick around till the end, you should be rewarded.