14th Sep2017

‘A Dark Song’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Catherine Walker, Steve Oram, Mark Huberman, Susan Loughnane, Nathan Vos | Written and Directed by Liam Gavin

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The debut film of writer/director Liam Gavin, A Dark Song is a modern take on the long-standing tradition of British ghost stories. Yet for all its modernity, it’s a film that also harkens back to the classic gothic horror of Hammer and in particular films like 1964′s The Devil Rides Out - of which this film shares many similarities…

Sophia (Walker) is grief-stricken and overwhelmed with sadness since the untimely death of her son. In a desperate attempt to achieve some form of closure, she reaches out to Solomon (Oram), an occultist with experience in an ancient invocation ritual that Sophia believes will allow her to make contact with her deceased child. Locked away in a remote country house, the pair undergo a long and arduous ritual, risking both their mental and physical safety as they attempt to access a world beyond their understanding. But when Solomon finds out that Sophia has not been truthful about her wish, a greater danger threatens them. In the dark, they find that they are no longer alone in the house. They are now in the world of real angels, and real demons.

Movies about satanic rituals, occultism and the like are very much a mainstay of the horror genre, yet they are also something very hard to get right. From the likes of 1922′s Haxan, filmmakers have been fascinated by the supernatural; although A Dark Song is very much more than just another film about satanism and the supernatural. The “ritual” here is less about bringing demons to this world than contacting them in order to make a request… an odd request, but one nonetheless that has just as big a ramification as if summoning the devil himself.

And that’s the interesting thing about Gavin’s film – whilst on its surface it looks and feels like a traditional gothic horror, filled with rituals and sacrifices; the story itself is ultimately more of one of redemption and saving oneself rather than facing the forces of evil.

It takes a lot to make a) your first feature film; and b) only have two actors carrying said film. Liam Gavin does both, and thankfully he has the script, and more importantly, the cast to make both a huge success.  OK, so maybe the film does head into WTF territory in it final scenes – the big reveal, the culmination of the occult rituals, etc.  but until that point A Dark Song is a tightly paced, tautly written horror that keeps you mesmerized thanks to the great hook (who doesn’t love a horror film set in an empty house in the middle of nowhere, where people actually INTEND to play around with forces that should be left well alone?) and a performance from Sightseers‘ Steve Oram that is easily the best genre work he’s done so far.

A compelling debut feature, A Dark Song is available on DVD and Digital Download now from Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment.

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