A Dark Song
|A Dark Song|
|Directed by||Liam Gavin|
|Written by||Liam Gavin|
|Music by||Ray Harman|
|Distributed by||IFC Midnight|
A Dark Song is a 2016 Irish independent horror film, written and directed by Liam Gavin and starring Steve Oram and Catherine Walker. It was released to select theatres and digital streaming platforms on 28 April 2017. It is Gavin's directorial debut.
A bitter Sophia rents an isolated house in rural Wales in order to convince short-tempered occultist Joseph Solomon to lead her in a grueling, months-long rite dictated from The Book of Abramelin to summon her guardian angel. They will then both be allowed to ask the angel to grant them a special favor. A visibly grieving Sophia will ask her angel to be able to speak to her dead seven-year-old son. The serious and demanding Solomon explains to Sophia that once they begin, if they leave the house before the ritual is finished they will be in grave peril. He says she must spend months of punishing exercises, in which they will be dealing with real demons and angels; she agrees. Over months she complies methodically with dozens of harrowing and painful exercises, but refuses to do the forgiveness ceremony. Grudgingly they get to know one another.
However, after months a frustrated Sophia complains that it’s taking too long, and Solomon accuses her of impairing the ritual by not being honest about something. She admits that the real favor she will ask the angel is revenge upon whoever kidnapped and killed her son. That night he awakens her to insist that because her dishonesty has made her unpure, a re-birthing ritual in the tub is required. However, he drowns her, says a spell, and revives her with CPR. Angry afterward in the kitchen, she pushes him and Solomon accidentally falls on a large kitchen knife, impaling him in the side. As she treats the wound with their meager medical supplies, he explains that this is a sign that the ritual is beginning to work, and that she will have her revenge. He discloses that he will ask the angel to be invisible for the rest of his life, in order to be away from people “to gain some quiet before the hell.”
As Solomon soldiers on with the wound, insisting he is just fine, Sophia begins seeing and hearing dark and menacing presences in the house, including the pleading voice of her son. As Solomon's wound becomes increasingly infected, he begins to fail, and eventually dies in his sleep. When she goes back to his books for further instruction, everything has been crossed out, unreadable. Sophia steps beyond the perimeter of the house, but her car won't start. After walking a lengthy distance down an empty road, she is disturbed to realize that she has arrived back at the mansion.
She re-enters to discover various kinds of demons appearing and re-appearing. At one point, one smashes her over the head, and they drag her to the basement, tormenting her, and cut off a finger, as she tells them how sorry she is. However, they retreat as a brilliant white light fills the house. She finds a massive, beatific angel in armor awaiting her; Sophia asks it for the power to forgive, and it smiles. Later she performs a water burial of Solomon in a nearby pond, and drives away.
- Steve Oram – Joseph Solomon
- Catherine Walker – Sophia Howard
- Mark Huberman – Neil Hughes
- Susan Loughnane – Victoria Howard
- Nathan Vos - Jack
A Dark Song premiered 8 July 2016 at the Galway Film Fleadh in Ireland, and was shown at the 2016 Fantastic Fest, the 2016 BFI London Film Festival and the 2016 Boston Underground Film Festival. It was released on 28 April 2017 in select theatres, video on demand and via digital streaming platforms.
The film received mostly positive reviews. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, it holds a 91% approval rating based on 36 reviews, with a rating average of 7.4/10. It's consensus reads: "A Dark Song offers atmospheric, unsettling horror -- and marks writer-director Liam Gavin as one to watch."
Tara Brady of The Irish Times called it "a nifty, novel Irish horror." Stephen Dalton of The Hollywood Reporter wrote that the film is a "classy effort throughout, from cinematographer Cathal Watters' beautiful vistas of the rugged Welsh landscape to Ray Harman's spare, brooding, dread-filled score. Oram's typically sour, surly, slyly comic performance also grounds the plot in a grubby realism that serves its more fantastical elements well." Haleigh Foutch of Collider wrote, "A Dark Song spins many webs of mystery and keeps you puzzling out every mystery up until the audacious ending you definitely won't see coming."
Scott Weinberg of Nerdist wrote, "Two complete strangers cutting themselves off from the world inside of a dilapidated mansion? That's already a movie I want to see. But once A Dark Song starts delving into issues like love, loss, faith, and the natural human reaction to sudden tragedy, that's when it blossoms from a novel concept to a truly powerful piece of genre filmmaking."
- Collis, Clark (29 March 2017). "'A Dark Song' Trailer Casts a Very Spooky Spell". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
- Barna, Ben (30 March 2017). "Will 'A Dark Song' Be This Year's Horror Sensation?". Nylon. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
- "A Dark Song (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
- Brady, Tara (5 April 2017). "A Dark Song review: a nifty, novel Irish horror". The Irish Times. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
- Dalton, Stephen (31 October 2016). "'A Dark Song': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
- Foutch, Haleigh (29 March 2017). "'A Dark Song' Trailer Delivers a Black Magic Head Trip". Collider. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
- Weinberg, Scott (30 April 2017). "Grief Battles Faith in the Resoundingly Creepy A DARK SONG (Review)". Nerdist. Retrieved 13 May 2017.