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Everett Miller
Everett Miller

A Dark Song

Magic is not science. It is not parlor tricks. It is not dancing widdershins around the cemetery at midnight. In A Dark Song, the revelatory debut feature from writer/director Liam Gavin, it is the dark pumping blood of the universe, a dangerous negotiation with implacable near-incomprehensible powers of light and dark.

A Dark Song

Grieving Sophia (Catherine Walker) despairs over the tragic loss of her murdered son. Desperate to somehow make contact with the boy she has lost, Sophia believes her prayers are answered when she crosses paths with the reclusive Joseph (Steve Oram, Sightseers). An expert in the occult, Joseph reluctantly agrees to aid Sophia through a series of dark and forbidden rituals in order to bring her child back to the world of the living. Pushed to their physical and psychological breaking points, Sophia and Joseph make a disturbing descent into the most depraved corners of black magic.

The relative youth of ritual theory makes this already esoteric topic one that is fraught with ambiguity, both in terms of definition and morality. Ritualism can provide comfort, closure, and a sense of community; but equally, it is instrumental to pervasive systems of social control, including religious dogmatism and patriarchy. This ambiguity means that the imagery of ritual provides artists with a richly visual and malleable thematic device that can explore the darkness and complexity of the foundations of society and culture.

Sophia (Walker) is grief-stricken and overwhelmed with sadness since the untimely death of her son. In a desperate attempt to achieve some form of closure, she reaches out to Solomon (Oram), an occultist with experience in an ancient invocation ritual that Sophia believes will allow her to make contact with her deceased child. Locked away in a remote country house, the pair undergo a long and arduous ritual, risking both their mental and physical safety as they attempt to access a world beyond their understanding. But when Solomon finds out that Sophia has not been truthful about her wish, a greater danger threatens them. In the dark, they find that they are no longer alone in the house. They are now in the world of real angels, and real demons.

A Dark Song is many things: a moving portrait of two lost people helping each other through the darkness, a deeply frightening haunted house tale, and a treatise on the possibility of the miraculous. It is also one of the best horror films of the last decade.

Knowing up front that A Dark Song is not a traditional horror film will help viewers immensely. What they will see is a story uniquely presented through the rich detail of following precise steps through unknown territory. There are not really any chair-jumping scares here and the soundtrack is equally restrained. What viewers do get is a quietly introspective look at these characters as we join them on a journey filled with dark magick and the promise of inner peace. 041b061a72


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