One of the most pleasant surprises to come out of last year’s Fantastic Fest was Liam Gavin’s A Dark Song, a stripped-down, no-nonsense horror movie about the perils of the occult. It was one of the most intriguing, unique, and creepy movies I saw in 2016…and soon, it will be one of the most intriguing, unique, and creepy movies you’ll see in 2017. You can watch the first trailer below.
A Dark Song is set almost entirely within a single house, where a grieving mother and a bad-tempered occultist are engaging in a ritual. But this isn’t just a quick magic spell accomplished with a few words and some candles – it’s a genuine ordeal, a process that requires many months, stringent rules, and an extreme attention to detail. Eventually, the reason why both of them are putting themselves through this ritual comes to light, but it’s an intense, unsettling, slow-burning experience that eases you into a mesmerizing world with as many ambiguous questions as answers.
The trailer itself is fine, but it’s hard to sell the film’s careful pace and keenly balanced tone. If this intrigues you, you can read my review from last year:
A Dark Song is a strong debut for Liam Gavin and it’s a breath of fresh air for occult movies in general. The film ultimately feels like a hybrid between Steven Soderbergh (a fascination with a specific process and the kind of professionals who can pull said process off) and James Wan (scary things in a creepy house make you wet your pants). It’s an utterly unique film that uses its slow pace to lay the dread on thick and and build its characters so it can turn around and tear everything down in the homestretch. And the ending, which will surely prove divisive, is an audacious choice for a genre so often built on nihilism. A Dark Song may be a hard-edged and occasionally difficult movie, but it has soul.
IFC Midnight will release A Dark Song in select theaters, on VOD, and for digital download on April 28, 2017. While it makes for a fine theater experience, this is a movie that may play better at home…as long as you turn out every single light and give it your full, undivided attention.
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An unholy alliance between two damaged souls leads them on a disturbing descent into the depraved realms of black magic. Sophia (Catherine Walker) is a grieving and desperate woman with a secret. Joseph (SIGHTSEERS’ Steve Oram) is an anti-social, alcoholic expert in the occult who reluctantly agrees to help her. Holed up in a remote cabin amidst the desolate wilds of Northern Wales, the two embark on a grueling six-month series of dark rituals that will push them both to the physical and psychological breaking point. The debut feature from rising horror auteur Liam Gavin sustains an air of quietly creeping dread as it builds towards one hell of a payoff.