Saturday, September 2, 2017

A DARK SONG (2016) (IFC Midnight Blu-ray Review)

A DARK SONG (2016)

Label: IFC Midnight/Scream Factory
release Date: September 5th 2017 
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 100 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD M A2.0, 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.40:1) 
Director: Liam Gavin
Cast: Mark Huberman, Steve Oram, Catherine Walker, Susan Loughnane

I do love a good satanic film with a slow-burning fuse, and this one boils down to two people alone in a house with some heavy occult elements mixed in with personal tragedy, a desire for revenge and the willingness to do just about anything to have it, even debasing oneself to obtain a favor from the other side. 

Sophia (Catherine Howard) is a mother deeply distraught after the death of her young child, in a desperate attempt to communicate with the child from beyond the grave, or perhaps for vengeance, she contacts occultist Joseph (Steve Oram, Sightseers) and when an agreement is reached the two head off to a rural mansion in the countryside where they will perform a dark ritual that will bring about Sophia's deepest desire - to contact her dead child, the dark ritual  will also grant something to Joseph, too.

The two do not make for great housemates, Sophia seems distrustful of Joseph's abilities to perform the ritual effectively, and for his part Joseph is a grade-a asshole from start to finish, rudely and abruptly commanding Sophia to do all sorts of odd things, add to that the fact that the damned ritual might take upwards of a year to perform! The set about on their way, forming a circle around the home which cannot be crossed, lest they be damned for eternity, there's a lot of tense interactions with the pair as they prepare Sophia's body in various ways for the ritual, purifying her,  and cover the rooms of house with spooky occult runes. 

At one point Joseph announces that she must perform some sex magic, later admitting it was just a lie so he can beat one out and ease his lustful thoughts to better prepare himself. That revelation does not go without her working out her ire with a little urine-inflicted revenge, it sours her even more on Joseph. The movie starts and progresses rather slowly for the first two-thirds, but I love a good slow burn, and I thought the progression was well-tempered with tension and some creepy occult happenings. 

In the third act the movie tears down the doors of perception and we're immersed in a world of dark, otherworldly visuals, none of it too frightening for my tastes, in fact, when everything went all haunted-house I didn't lose interest, but I felt it didn't deliver the goods either as set-up by what came before it, it started feeling a bit too familiar, that sort of stuff has been done nearly to death.

However, there is a an armored, angelic figure that shows up in the final few moments I found it fascinating, Sophia's motives are spun from vengeance to something else altogether, it's an odd uplifting element that I liked quite a bit, it's also one of the most visually impressive aspects of the movie. I enjoyed the slow-build and the representation of the occult, it went well beyond the usual witchy hokum with some gripping character moments and deep-cut occult ritual stuff, a very unique take on the sub-genre of occult movies and one worth a watch.     

Audio/Video: A Dark Song (2016) arrives on Blu-ray from IFC Midnight and Scream Factory framed in the original widescreen aspect ratio (2.40:1) in 1080P HD - looking very nice. Colors are muted throughout by design but look nicely detailed and fairly crisp, black levels are very strong with nice shadow detail, and this movie is largely cloaked in darkness, and it hold up t scrutiny. Audio options on the disc comes by way an English language DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo and 5.1 surround track - the audio is crisp and vibrant, this one has a great creepy score and some effective use of the surrounds that make the whole experience that much more entrancing. Optional English subtitles are provided. 

The disc comes in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with a slipcover featuring the same artwork. Extras on the disc includes interview with Director Liam Gavi, Actors Steve Oram, Catherine Walker and Director Of - Photography Cathal Watters - all adding up to about a near half hour. There are also a selection of deleted scenes, storyboards, and a trailer for the film.  

Special Features: 
- Interviews With Director Liam Gavin (4 min) HD 
- Interviews With Actor Steve Oram (7 min) HD 
- Interviews With Actor  Catherine Walker (9 min) HD 
- Interviews With Director Of - Photography Cathal Watters (7 min) HD 
- Deleted Scenes (10 min) HD 
- Storyboards (14 min) HD 
- Theatrical Trailer (2 min) HD 

A Dark Song (2016) is a compelling, character driven descent into the occult, the two solid leads who work well with and against each other, and I loved the drawn-out representation of the dark ritual. If you can enjoy a good, thoughtful satanic slow-burn that doesn't descend immediately into a bloodbath of spooks and demons you might have a taste for this one, give it a watch. 

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