A Dark Song

This is for you. For the paperwork. For privacy!

Year Released : 2016

Director : Liam Gavin

Cast : Steve Oram and Catherine Walker

So it’s another day and another review, this time for the Irish movie ‘A Dark Song’. I didn’t actually know this was an Irish film until I read some of the information for the cast and director, but for me that is a decent enough reason to watch anyway. This is another from the “Films I want to see” Youtube list, which at this rate I will have to refill with new trailers as I’ve gotten through a few of them in recent weeks.

Last year ‘Sing Street’ featured in my top ten for the year, and ‘The Hallow’ also got a positive write up from me. Not to forget that some of my favourite actors are Irish, such as Cillian Murphy and to a much lesser extent, Brendan Gleeson, so I’m somewhat optimistic regarding this movie, but I’ve noticed that whenever I get excited or optimistic I am left disappointed.

We’ll see.

Plot

Sophia (Walker) rents a large house and hires Joseph (Oram) to help her with a ritual that will allow her to talk to her dead child. After getting supplies Joseph completes a circle of salt that spiritually seals them inside of the house and he suddenly becomes verbally abusive to Sophia on a regular basis.

The process proves physically demanding, including sitting in circles for days on end without breaks or food, drinking Joseph’s blood and other torturous things. After Joseph tricks Sophia into stripping so that he can masturbate, she threatens to leave and break the seal of salt around the house, but he panics and states that their souls are bound to the house until they complete the ritual.

Things start working briefly, such as petals falling from the sky inside, but she still doesn’t probably believe, but maybe she hasn’t been totally honest.

So is it as original as they say in most of the advertising?

Like most movies there is a lot of bending of the truth when it comes to the advertising of their films, some spout absolute lies in order to get people to watch them. “A Dark Song” isn’t one of those. Whilst it is quite strange that an Irish film is neither set in Ireland (it is in northern Wales) or have an Irish cast, that for me isn’t classed as false advertising.

Whilst not truly original and it borrowing from a lot of similar aspects from other horror films, there are some parts of “A Dark Song” that I have never seen before, mainly because of the relationship between Joseph and Sophia. It starts off quite abusively, with Joseph spouting outright hatred towards Sophia and being completely unreasonable, tricking her into stripping so that he can masturbate and do everything else except for actually hitting her (at least I can’t remember him hitting her).

I don’t think I’ve ever heard the word “cunt” used so much in a film before. I didn’t count them but I would bet that there are at least 15 uses of the word from just the two main characters alone. This alone would make Joseph ridiculously unlikable, one of his many qualities that are just deplorable, but you do feel his frustration with Sophia constantly lying to him about why she is wanting the ritual to be performed. Fueled by vengeance, Sophia is also a questionable character, which makes their relationship even more compelling.

As time goes on you do genuinely wonder whether Joseph is telling the truth or whether he is doing it for some perverted reason or craziness. In many ways he is like Howard from “10 Cloverfield Lane”. You never know what is true and what isn’t as it comes out from his mouth. He makes outrageous claims, such as the reason he gets Sophia to strip, but then something will happen to make it seem like he is telling the truth. You never truly know.

That feeling of mystery is what kept me interested for the full ninety-nine minute run time.

Acoustically the film has an unsettling soundtrack and one that keeps you on the edge. Whilst there are some predictable sound effects used, the music really adds to the uneasiness of the situation and helps the tension immensely.

Summary

“A Dark Song” took me a bit by surprise as I was convinced that I would end up hating it, but that is not the case at all. Whilst not original in any form really, it is executed in such a way that it is definitely worth ninety-nine minutes of your time.

Don’t go in expecting the genre to have been redefined, it’s not that good, but it is reasonable enough to watch.

Give it a go.

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