A Dark Song
It is admittedly something of a cliché to describe horror movies as dark and gritty – that is, after all, the palette that they paint from. A Dark Song, then, doesn’t differ from its stable mates in that regard. Rather, it revels in infusing the mundane of the everyday with the darkness of the occult.
This is an organic horror with a slow build up; in fact, a good two thirds of the running time is devoted to building a suitably chilling atmosphere. The film does an excellent job of utilising the isolation of the house that starts as the setting and slowly becomes the entire world of our only two characters, Solomon and Sophia.
A Dark Song centres around Sophia (Catherine Walker), a woman drowning in her grief and desperately reaching out for help. When aid comes in the form of Soloman, an abusive, alcoholic occultist, then we know how desperate she truly is. The viewer follows the pair as they lock themselves away in a large, secluded house in Wales and begin the exhausting process of rituals that will allow Sophia to contact her deceased child. That things don’t go quite to plan will shock no one – it wouldn’t be a horror movie otherwise.
The score is superb, all industrial bangs and clanks and (literally) things that go bump in the night, punctuated regularly by screeching strings – it really does possess the power to raise the hairs on one’s arms.
It should be noted that this is also not a traditional horror. It really is something of a slow burner, and anyone expecting the now obligatory jump scares of the modern horror genre is probably going to be disappointed. That’s not to say this isn’t a scary movie, however; it is, but those moments are ultimately somewhat sparse and more to do with feeling trapped in the oppressive atmosphere the film weaves, rather than some deformed beastie leaping out to scream “boo”.
The final part of A Dark Song does seem to take something of a dive away from the slow-rising air of menace into outright threat and violence. The monsters are thrust into the light and, like most features of this genre, once they are held up to visual inspection they are found lacking. It’s the invisible threat from the darkness that truly terrifies after all – it’s a rare beast that, once revealed, actually stands up to what our imaginations can conjure.
The end destination may somewhat waste what has been carefully laid before, but it is well worth catching this film if you can, simply to enjoy the journey itself.
A Dark Song is released in selected cinemas on 7th April 2017.
Watch the trailer for A Dark Song here: