New Horror Releases: A Dark Song (2016) - Reviewed

When a single mother loses her young son to a murderous set of teenagers practicing the black arts, she enters a world of obsession that brings her to the brink of madness and a confrontation with evil incarnate. Her search leads her to a practitioner that will assist her in conjuring a guardian angel that will grant her one impossible wish. The outcomes are pain and even more suffering. 

Set in the darkened hallways of a house beyond the confines of civilization, her journey to reconnect with her son beyond the grave turns into a brooding nightmare scenario plagued with death, self realization, and the malevolent outcomes of playing with the occult. Using many similar themes as last year's The Other Side of the Door, this latest horror entry plays it close to the chest by never revealing too much. Instead of explaining away every bit of story, A Dark Song is an ethereal tale that mixes manipulative folk horror with the claustrophobic environmental tropes of the haunting genre. In between, we're given tones of sexual abuse, contemptuous power struggles, and a sinister feeling of loss. 

Featuring only two main characters throughout the entirety of the story arc, Liam Gavin's supernatural film is drenched in atmosphere and mood. The old house and the sense of abandonment is palpable. And the build up of tension and dread is fully realized. However, as much time as Gavin spent on creating an ambient setting, he ultimately fails to offer enough story to make a great film. There was so much more that could have been done with this. What seems (at times) to be a callback to the sinister elements of Clive Barker's original Hellraiser in many ways, ultimately fails to offer any real sense of fulfillment or closure for the main characters. 

I'm trying to burn this old house down with all these candles.
Don't tell anyone or I'll unleash evil on you. 

With both central players feeling like they were ripped right out of our reality, A Dark Song grapples with bereavement and a mother's willingness to go to the furthest extremes. Using Steve Oram and Catherine Walker's talents to their full extent, Gavin should have spent more time developing the script. Too much is left to the imagination. Elements that desperately needed attentiveness to detail were left wide open to interpretation. 

A Dark Song capitalizes on a bleak setting with a strong sense of despair and ravaging pain. If you're a horror fan, there is plenty here to wrap yourself up in. Just don't expect to walk away amazed. I enjoyed it but had hoped for way more.