Halloween Month continues with a film that was recommended to me by a Facebook buddy mere hours before Jill suggested it. I love getting recommendations and this one, well – did it live up to the glowing review it received?
Read on, my friends and I’ll let you know.
A Dark Song (2016)
A determined young woman and a damaged occultist risk their lives and souls to perform a dangerous ritual that will grant them what they want.
Sophia (Catherine Walker) is looking for the perfect house. For what we’re not sure yet, to live in harmoniously with her family one would assume. And yet, she’s viewing a remote house in rural Wales alone. Hmm.
When she hands the estate agent a massive wad of cash to rent it for several months, you know there’s more to the story than meets the eye – and we should hope so too, this is what we came for.
With the ideal location scouted, Sophia heads to a motorway service station to meet someone. That someone is Joseph Soloman (Steve Oram) a charmless man with what turns out to be a very particular set of skills. Skills Sophia is willing to pay handsomely for.
Joseph is an occultist you see, and even though he definitely wasn’t Sophia’s first choice, he seems to be about the only one willing to help. Sort of. The ritual Sophia wants to partake in is a Kabbalistic grimoire which lasts months and if done right, will result in the appearance of her guardian angel. Who will grant her her heart’s desire.
Joseph is a blunt man and when Sophia tells him she’s doing this all for love, he bolts. Her explanation is that she loves someone and they don’t love her anymore. Just as he’s about to leave forever and blow the whole deal, Sophia tells him the truth: that her son died and she wants to speak to him one last time.
He agrees to come back to the house if she continues to tell the truth and she agrees. She also offers to pay him £80k for his troubles. On their first night at the house, the two of them chat but it’s not a fluffy, getting to know you kind of affair – Joseph is going to be a hardarse if they’re to get true results. We also learnt that Mr Soloman has a drink and drug dependency and he has to go through a brief DT before they begin.
The rules here are: Sophia has to do everything Joseph says, cook and clean – and have ritual sex with him when required. Again, Sophia agrees to all but she’s an argumentative soul and on the first day, after the house is sealed in its circle of salt, she questions his methods and he gets shirty.
She relents and they begin, with Joseph explaining each step as they go. Some of these rituals look agonising: for instance there’s a lot of fasting and sitting crossed legged on the floor of rooms for days on end without water, loo breaks or Twitter.
But Sophia keeps on carrying on, even when she has to drink blood. She is also required to speak in French and German and learn to hand write some of the sacred symbols – though the one thing she refuses to bend on is the forgiveness part. When Joseph asks her to find forgiveness in her heart, she is cagey and refuses, asking him to work around it.
We soon encounter some frustration from both camps; Sophia because she’s not seeing enough results and Joseph because he doesn’t fully believe her motivation. During an argument Sophia lets the truth out: she’s after revenge after her son was murdered by teenage Satanists who were never caught by the law. This doesn’t put Joseph off but it does piss him off, all he wants is the truth and for this to work – the deal is, when Sophia gets her one wish, he will too.
There’s a really icky scene in which Joseph cashes in his sex chip with Sophia, though they don’t fully get it on. He tricks her for his own end and we can only assume it’s because he’s a bit of a dick and wants revenge.
Just as Sophia is beginning to give up hope and is thinking of breaking the circle (something Joseph warns her never to do or they’ll be stuck there forever), small things start to happen. Sophia gets to talk to her son, though now we know this is not her final wish. But Sophia is wiser than she seems and refuses to open the door to the voice, which turns out to be something altogether different to her lovely dead son.
Something terrible happens in the house soon after and the bond between occultist and assistant (?) actually strengthens, though their lives are soon to be changed forever. Will Sophia summon her angel or be dragged down to Hell by something far darker? Will she get her wish – and for that matter, will Joseph?
I’m afraid it’s up to you to find the answers for yourself.
Wow. This movie is stunning looking from the off. The setting is gorgeous as is the house itself – and all that landscape, you can’t deny that Wales is a beautiful country. But we’re not here for the greenery, are we?
I loved this film. Even though both characters at times aren’t all that pleasant, there is something pleasing about their dynamic. Joseph is hard but he has his reasons, while Sophia seems reluctant to give in fully to her own base urges. I’m sad for them both.
It’s also deeply satisfying to not have a romantic sub-plot to worry about. The ‘sex-scene’ is horribly uncomfortable but not gratuitous (or it is but not when you consider the motivations of Joseph’s character) and at least he has the decency to seem utterly ashamed of himself. (Not saying it’s cool).
Both central performances are great and when things get a little more supernatural, I’m still with them. There’s a surreality to what happens, obviously, and it could jar against the crumbling beauty of the rest of the film but I think it works okay.
This is one of the best horror/thrillers I’ve seen this season anyway and I recommend it to anyone who loves the genre. Makes you think too.
5/5. Eery and sad.
What did Wifey think? Would she summon it from the afterlife or leave it on its own in the middle of nowhere? Find out here.
Ps. Thanks for the tip-off April!