Saturday, May 20, 2017

[Review] A Dark Song

Mounting as the directorial debut of Liam Gavin, the Irish indie film A Dark Song is an utterly drab exercise in black magic horror. It's quite the epitome of a slow burn, but unfortunately it possesses more 'slow' than 'burn'.

After hiring an ornery occultist named Joseph Solomon (Steve Oram), the determined Sophia (Catherine Walker) purchases a big old house in the middle of nowhere--the type of place that "We Buy Ugly Houses" wouldn't even want to touch. The two use the home as place to conduct a dangerous and exhausting ritual in order for Sophia to get in touch with her son on the other side.

Unlike most horror films of this ilk, A Dark Song focuses more on the build-up and process of the ritual, rather than what happens after the ritual (aka the breakthrough). It's an interesting spin, but not the scariest or most exciting. The film is full of painstaking preparations and meticulous mediations that test the patience of both us and the characters. Talking to the dead, apparently it's a lot of work! Everything has to go perfectly. The list of details is practically longer Mariah Carey's tour rider.

But the film does nail it in the mood and atmosphere section. The ominous musical score scrapes against your nerves like an untuned violin. The scenic views of the strange skies and countrysides come as a breath of fresh air from the claustrophobic bleakness within the house. And the quick-cutting flashes of the supernatural during the film's climax are really unsettling.

So I appreciated the film's relentless commitment to its craft, even if it isn't entirely worth it in the end.

( 7/10 )

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