A Dark SongLondon Film Festival 2016
7th October 2016 9.00pm at Curzon Soho
8th October 2016 1.00pm at BFI Southbank (NFT)
Written and directed by Liam Gavin, A Dark Song is a tortuous tale on black magic rituals and torment over a dead child that delves into the sinister and the forces of evil.
The film opens with a classic grey cast lighting, creating a somber atmosphere, and pounding, demonic sound of drums and horns – which continues throughout. A distraught-looking Sophia Howard (Catherine Walker) rents a large old mansion, then hires a very unlikely-looking guy, occultist Joseph Solomon (Steve Oram), to perform a six-month dark arts ritual with her so that she may speak with her dead child. Thereafter ensue months of deprivation, suffering and torment with the use of very precise methods by Solomon, such as demonic circles, and by-the-book ceremonies involving such “necessities” as not moving for days and drinking blood.
In the horror genre which could be likened to Silent Hill – but is derivative of numerous frightening movies – A Dark Song might be viewed as another Hollywood-style demon/occult flick (although made in Ireland) except that it is original in its focus on the very precise and disturbing dark arts protocols, and in Oram’s character, who is manic in carrying out his stringent, brutal rituals, yet also very human and multi-dimensional. Oram portrays admirably this fish-and-chips kind of guy who abuses alcohol but takes his occult practices dead seriously. Walker’s excellent acting conveys well the torment over the death of Sophia’s young son and her determination, despite suffering from grueling experiences. Yet with her wavering doubt she expresses subtle nuances.
Although common and accepted for filmmakers to borrow elements of other directors’ films – even considered a sign of admiration to their work – when an element has been repeated too many times it leans towards the formulaic and becomes a horror cliché. For example, the scene of trying to escape the house repeatedly only to arrive right back there is just that: it has been overdone.
As a first film, A Dark Song is impressive. It is a slick, well-edited production with interesting dialogue, and adds new elements to the genre. Gradually, but vividly, it does what it should: it terrifies.
A Dark Song does not have a UK release date yet.
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