May 5, 2017

VOD Review: A Dark Song (2017)

"Quite an enticing conjuring."

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4805316/
There are always Horror flicks about people trying to make contact with the spirit world, and most of them tend to cater to teen audiences, and don't really ever bring anything new to the table. Ouija, we're looking at you!

With A Dark Song though, we get to see the subject of otherworldly conjuring handled in a mature and realistic way, and it's about damn time.

*There will be ENDING SPOILERS below. My advice is to not read them until you've seen the movie, then come back and read them, and see if they jibe with your take on things.

Sophia is a woman on a mission. Following a tragic loss, she's rented out a mansion in the remote Welsh countryside where she plans to make contact with her dead son with the help of local occultist (sorcerer, even), Mr. Solomon. We're not going to lie, her intentions seem a little bit shady, but she's a grieving mother, so we're willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and feel some sympathy for her.

SHE IS NOT PLAYING AROUND. NOT AT ALL.
Mr. Solomon is a cranky, overbearing arsehole of a human being, who tells Sophia that he can help her make contact with her dead son via a ritual in which the two will construct a series of magic circles, each one serving a specific purpose. In the final circle, a celestial being from beyond will appear and grant them both a gift, or wish if you will. Is he a charlatan out to make a quick buck or maybe just crazy? Well, he seems to know what he's about, so again, benefit of the doubt.

THE GORDON RAMSEY OF MYSTICS.
Mr. Solomon is exacting in his demands and instruction: they both have to be purified before they begin; they can't leave the house until the ritual is complete (which could take months); and everything has to be done perfectly down to the final detail, or they're both doomed. When doors begin to open by themselves, and strange voices can be heard echoing throughout the hallways at night, Sophia isn't phased in the slightest, because she will stop at nothing to reach her goal.

And that's all we've got to say about that.

SERIOUSLY, SHE'S ALL BUSINESS.
A Dark Song was great for a few different reasons. First, it's a meticulously crafted look at two people trying to perform an occult ritual that as far as I know, was absolutely realistic insofar as if occult rituals were real, this is exactly how one would be done. What the two main characters go through is a process, and an intense one, and it felt forbidden just watching them performing each step of the dark rites.

The movie also does a great job of keeping things fairly ambiguous as to the authenticity of the ritual itself. For a while there, I was wondering if Mr. Solomon was stringing Sophie along, having no knowledge of rituals, in an attempt to bilk her out of a large sum of money. On the same token, Sophie seemed to be less-than-honest about her intentions at times, which added another layer of "what the hell is going on here?" to the proceedings. It's all subtly done, and it makes for one hell of a compelling watch.

And then you have the characters, of which there are really only two. Catherine Walker plays distraught mother Sophie, and she was simply fantastic. Why she isn't a bigger name I have no idea, but the quiet ferocity of her performance here begs that she get bigger and better roles. Steve Oram was equally great as a guy who we couldn't stand, but had tons of sympathy for at times. These two carried the movie, and they did so brilliantly.

And let us not forget that not only is it a well-shot and gorgeous film, but that it's captivating as hell, and it's genuinely unnerving. 

***ENDING SPOILERS***
The one thing that kept this movie from being an A+ for me was the ending. Now, I actually like the ending as is, so bear with me.

So having crossed the barrier before the ritual was completed, Sophia was basically trapped in the house of the dammed for eternity, as Mr. Solomon had warned. When the Angel appears in the fifth circle, instead of the revenge that she's been on about for the whole movie, she asks for the ability to forgive, which the celestial being smiles at, and which also saves her from damnation and allows her to escape to live her life. I dig it, but after all of the creepy build-up, I really wanted some sort of horrific shit to go down. It just felt... anticlimactic, if spiritually appropriate.

Petty, I know, but it sticks out in my mind, so it's relevant. 
***END SPOILERS***

SHE'S CLEARLY HIGH ON SOMETHING.
A bloody song this is not, although there is one particularly gory and intense scene that made us cringe.

PRAYING HELPS. USUALLY.
Catherine Walker bares it all in the pursuit of the dark arts.

AND THIS CREEPER WANKS ONE OUT AT HER EXPENSE!
The love of a mother apparently knows no bounds. Also, when someone places a salt line around your house and tells you not to cross it, listen to them.

YEAH, THAT MATCH OUGHT TO HELP...
A Dark Song really is a finely crafted film from top to bottom, and aside from the small issue I had with its ending, it's one of the best movies that I've seen in 2017. It's creepy, it's anchored by two top-notch lead performances, and it offers up a far better look into the world of "summoning the dead" than most Horror flicks tend to give.

Rent it, and don't look back.

A

A Dark Song is available now on VOD.

http://amzn.to/2qKPUWu

Catherine Walker is really, really hot.

3 comments :

  1. *******Spoilers********

    You may have gotten this, but just in case, when she left the first time and ended up back in the same spot, the reason she was being attacked was because she blamed herself instead of the people for did the actual killing of her son. When she asked for forgiveness, it all stopped and she was free. She basically created her own hell .
    Also I assumed the person in the dark was the guy who was now able to be invisible? He erased all his notes so he could a fresh start? That one I'm not 100 percent on though....

    Definitely a good movie for sure....

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  2. I don't get you guys here sometimes. This movie was blah. It wasn't horribly acted but when you get to the third act after watching those two fight like a married couple of 30+ years I don't get how this could be "close to an A". The ending wasn't even good or scary or satisfying.

    Watch the Skeleton Key and get a better Ritual arts movie and stop wasting peoples time

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    Replies
    1. The Skeleton Key was a typical bullshit Hollywood trash by the numbers movie.

      This movie had fucking weight to it that someone like you couldn't get because it lacked all the sparkles that are needed for you to make it "purty nuff" for you.

      Dark Song was perfect because is was realistic. If it had been done Found Footage style, it may have carried even more weight if done properly, like the movie The Borderlands.

      Delete