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A Dark Song - Movie Review

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A Dark Song - Movie Review

5 stars

How far would you go to break on through to the other side?  That answer probably depends upon the situation and the person.  All of which makes soaking in the sounds of A Dark Song so incredibly rewarding.  It is easily on par with The Witch when it comes to mood, atmosphere, and tone.  In fact, I’m unsure I will EVER be able to shake off this one. 

I will tell you straight up that this movie is a disturbing tale full of magical and Kabbalistic secrets.  It’s unnerving in its expounding of magical squares, almond branch wands, and the significance of howling dogs at night when there is not a soul for miles and miles around.  Demons are tiptoeing everywhere.

Understand that and you will be better served when buying a ticket and expecting a traditional horror story to unfold.  If there is anything traditional about this tale it is tangled within its European/Egyptian mage roots.  A Dark Song is also writer-director Liam Gavin’s debut and it is so expertly put together that its horror and its beauty will shake you to the very core. 

Don’t believe in a Heaven above us?  You just might after the conclusion of A Dark Song.  While narratively straight-forward, it is a film that is as mysterious as it is harsh and, with a quiet intensity, it builds its ghost story into a foundation of ancient horror that not even the obscure ceremony at its center, an archaic practice of supernatural exploitation called Ambramelin, could decipher. 

Filmed in the Welsh countryside and featuring a cast of two, Catherine Walker (Critical) as the grieving mother and Steve Oram (Sightseers) as a grumpy spiritualist named Joseph, Gavin’s film is truly a slow burn in which two characters embark on a journey to the other side…without leaving a very isolated and magnificently creepy country home.  It is perpetually cold, vacant, and full of unexplained noises.  It is indeed the perfect spot for the communication with the dead to occur.  

But this is not your normal séance.  There is no Ouija board as its centerpiece.  This is pure, unadulterated magic.  It is brutal – requiring Sophia (Walker) to fast, starve, drink blood, piss herself – and, truly, unforgiving if either one of them breaks the seal – a line of salt – that encloses them within the house.  To put it clearly, once this ritual begins, it cannot be halted…without severe consequences.

There are requirements for Joseph (Oram) as well.  They are just as brutal.  He’s not forced to strip, yet he is stabbed.  He also deserves it.  Like I said, he’s unkind to Sophia and obeys only the ceremony.  He’s performed the ritual three times and only once it worked.  It’s deadly stuff that he’s playing around with and, since this film is getting a release here in the states, it’s quite interesting to see a serious treatment of communicating with the dead.

This is not your average haunted house.  The extent to which it goes to in order for one woman to seek permission from her guardian angel in order to speak to her dead son (who was kidnapped and murdered by a teenage gang) is quite unforgettable.  And, yeah, you read that right: a guardian angel.  All through the film our own belief is toyed with.  We hear things.  A child giggles.  A baby cries.  There are knocks.  There are misplaced items.  Yet, we are asked to doubt it all.  Even the two characters that are trying to open this spiritual door doubt the progress they’ve made. 

And when things get really tough, considering this is a 6-month operation, gazing out the front door at a line you don’t dare cross becomes so incredibly hard on the spirit. Does she dare risk being trapped in the house forever?

A Dark Song will test you.  It will force you to question some truths you hold to be concrete.  It also dares to go forward with a muddy understanding of reason and consequence for Sophia.  Some will not totally understand the truth in the words of her chant.  The movie still pays off. 

If you truly listen to the words within A Dark Song and allow for their suggested images to form, you just might get the message in the tune that drifts out over the welsh countryside and catches the wind.  And it will scare the hell out of you with its unsettling statement.


A Dark Song - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: Not rated.
100 mins
: Liam Gavin
Liam Gavin
Mark Huberman, Susan Loughnane, Steve Oram
: Horror | Horror
Not everything can be forgiven.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I have to hear his voice again."
Theatrical Distributor:
IFC Midnight
Official Site:
Release Date:
April 28, 2017
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
Synopsis: A heartbroken woman and recluse occultist perform an ancient, dark ritual to bring her child back to life – but missteps have consequences and unknown evils are unleashed..

No details available.


A Dark Song - Movie Review



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