Every now and again, an indie film comes out that renews my faith in low budget film-making. A film that has atmosphere and performance and takes you somewhere you don’t want to go. This time that film is A DARK SONG and it is a journey into the heart of darkness that feels real and truly frightening.
Sophia (Catherine Walker) is suffering from grief. Her young son is dead and she wishes to speak to him again. At least that is what she tells occultist for hire Joseph (Steve Oram). This “truth” comes only after her initial reason fails to secure his services. Having paid him a considerable amount of money to guide her journey, she tells several half truths which endanger their lives.
They travel to a secluded house and surround it with salt, sealing themselves in. There they will perform several rituals to bring about the dark forces necessary to achieve her goal. Fasting, sleep deprivation, ritualistic sex, everything is on the table. Joseph warns her several times that what she wants is dangerous and that truth, not intent, is paramount. But there always seems to be something off about the answers she gives. She is lying about what she wants and they are both in danger!
A DARK SONG is written and directed by Liam Gavin, a considerable talent for indie horror. You have what is essentially a two person play in a large house, yet almost every minute is filled with tension, dread, and most importantly, mounting fear of the unknown. You are with Sophia and Joseph, going through the rituals and tightening your body with every step closer towards the inevitable goal, to speak to a dark god and ask for what you want.
The performances are spot on here. Catherine Walker is believable and sympathetic as the grieving mother. A role that is very hard to play in the right way. We’ve seen it before in recent films like THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR, but all I wanted to do with that film is tell the mother to get over it! Walker’s performance is real. She is damaged and angry and very driven. She is blinded by her needs and that is what makes her dangerous.
As her counter-point, Steve Oram is equally fantastic. Joseph is a very serious man who has seen things and you can’t help but believe him. Where the role could become eye- roll inducing in the hands of most, Oram makes the character not only believable, but uncomfortable to watch. He feels like the real deal and someone you may speak to at a party but quickly distance yourself from.
So the big question you may be asking is does the build up deliver? Without giving anything away…YES! This film has everything you want in an occult thriller. It stands with films like KILL LIST head and shoulders above the rest. A DARK SONG is a sweet Satanic melody that suck you in from beginning to end. All you need to enjoy this is a quiet room and maybe a bottle of wine.