Wow. Literally, A Dark Song was intense as all Hell. My thoughts are kind of jumbled at this point because I have so many things I want to say in respect to this feature. I almost wish I could just do a bullet point review where I list what I like about it in single sentences. That would be easier than doing a full explanation while my mind is blown. Writer/director Liam Gavin, cinematographer Cathal Watters, and composure Ray Harman have created something special, suspenseful and magical with A Dark Song. This is what film-making and story-telling is all about, folks.
And here’s the best part: an independent film that’s clearly Oscar worthy was created in the simplest way – one location, a small cast, and an expertly crafted plot. Said plot follows a psychologically damaged woman and a dark occultist as they set out to perform a ritual that will grant them one wish or power from a long forgotten deity. Steve Oram, Catherine Walker, Susan Loughnane, and Mark Huberman star in this incredible masterclass in visceral film-making. A Dark Song is a slow-burn horror film blending witchcraft and themes of isolation and paranoia into an artistic masterpiece that rivals and appears akin to Robert Eggers’ The Witch.
The level of uncertainty is chokingly apparent from the beginning of this title and it builds to stiffing suspense midway and shatters your senses by the end. Visually the audience will already be enthralled by the time the ritual truly begins, but the audience will be captivated by the morose emotional pull that A Dark Song produces from the first shots. This is accompanied by an extremely successful score by Ray Harman that finishes the job of whisking you away into this horrific world without you even knowing it. The world constructed in A Dark Song is completely cinematic, completely coherent but manufactured, and you’ll be so involved with the occult aspect of the story that you’re never going to even think about purchasing a ouija board or crystal ball again. Some elements of the paranormal are better left alone, correct?
The battle between good and evil is usually the center-point of supernatural thrillers like this one. However, A Dark Song takes a different approach to the topic, which in returns makes for a more original plot progression. Instead of combating evil entities, the two main characters are inviting them into their home, trying to prove that they are worthy enough of continuing to the next part in the ritual. The entities become more sleepless and lash out as it continues and the humans can only stand strong in their faith that something better lies at the end of this long journey. As the characters embark on their nightmarish trip, the viewer will go on a trip with them – they’ll have no choice. The unseen presence in A Dark Song will literally come alive for the viewer and leave them wondering if they’re being watched, too. And I’d like to say that I’m happy that the occult material was treated in such a brave and respectful way. No traditional Hollywood back-breaks or spinning heads were used here. The journey and the threat of realism will be enough to scare you.
A Dark Song should be a contender for every best picture and best cinematography award that 2017 has to offer. It was that good. It’s the perfect stormy night feature that will leave you shaken long after the credits roll. I’m thrilled to see that originality and passion and creativity still exist in the entertainment industry and A Dark Song is that testimate. Thank you to the producers and everyone involved for choosing to showcase this in the realms of science fiction and horror. I can’t rave about this movie enough, every aspect is worthy of praise and recognition. It’s so invigorating and frightening at the same time and so expertly produced. Do you remember how those first supernatural flicks like Poltergeist scared you back in the 80’s? A Dark Song is going to have the same effect and I believe it’ll still hold up years from now. The bar has been raised, folks. Check it out when you get the chance! Final Score: 9 out of 10.