A Dark Song (2017) [REVIEW]

I LOVE SPOOKY SHIT. I really, truly do. If there are demons or witches or Satan, it’s exactly what I’m into! You can imagine my excitement over A Dark Song, which combined an occultist, Satan, and a woman grieving over her dead son. Also, it stars Steve Oram, whose work I thoroughly enjoyed in Kill List and Sightseers, and is an all-around badass. Although the film combines many effective and entertaining elements, the result of the whole ordeal is a little underwhelming.

Hey! This looks like my room!

After the tragic passing of her son, Sophia (Catherine Walker) will stop at nothing to reconnect with the light of her life. Her quest to find answers about contacting the other side leads her to Joseph (Oram), an occultist who’s well-versed in contacting the other side, no matter what lengths he must go to. Once Sophia agrees to his conditions, the two lock themselves in a Victorian mansion and go through a series of rituals, ranging from chants and sayings to death-defying tasks and sexual performances. By the end of the film, Sophia ends up getting the answers she’s looking for, but whether or not that confirms the existence of the other side or proof that the occultist is full oh bologna, you’ll have to watch to find out!

Hey! This also looks like my room!

What works to A Dark Song‘s advantage, as well as works against it, is the ambivalence on whether the film wants to answer whether or not Sophia’s actions will yield the results she wants. Were the film just a typical “occultist ritual to evoke the supernatural,” it would be well-worn territory. However, considering just how much of the film features not much happening, it’s easy to lose sight of what brought these two characters together in the first place. I found myself losing interest in the dynamic between the two characters, even though Oram and Walker give decent enough performances, but their relationship was very bizarre, with Oram’s characters barking orders at Walker’s about what depraved things she must do to complete rituals, followed by scenes of the two connecting as peers. There are some supernatural elements in the film, which felt like too little, too late, lacking an engaging atmosphere that would normally keep me enthralled. A Dark Song is an unconventional tale of belief and the supernatural, which includes compelling performances, but the film didn’t quite stick the landing.

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