A Dark Song - Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray / Media Reviews' started by Michael Scott, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    A Dark Song

    [​IMG]
    Movie: :3.5stars:
    Video: :4stars:
    Audio: :4stars:
    Extras: :3stars:
    Final Score: :3.5stars:



    [​IMG] Movie

    IFC Midnight and Scream Factory have not had a good collaboration as of late. So far the only film from the collaborative efforts in modern horror has been The Autopsy of Jane Doe (a fantastically creepy little film), while the rest of their modern terror flicks have stumbled around in the dark with bumbling attempts at eliciting scares out of folks. That’s not to say that new horror films can’t scare people, but IFC Midnight hasn’t had that great of a track record. A Dark Song is one of their best efforts yet, lauded by not only the horror genre fanatics, but given quite a solid applause rating at several of the film festival circuits in recent history. I really enjoyed the slow burn thriller, give it props for one other thing that plagues the horror movie industry. It didn’t come with an abysmal ending like so many other ones (even The Autopsy of Jane Doe suffered a bit in that department).

    Sophia Howard (Catherine Walker) is grieving over the death of her son, and the only release that she can find is gaining the help of a spiritual medium in order to contact the spirit of her son, Jack (Nathan Vos). Sophia thinks she’s hit the jackpot when she comes across reclusive Joseph (Steve Oram) and he reluctantly agrees to conduct a dark ritual for her to see her dead boy again. The ritual appears to have a bunch of stringent rules to it, including doing EVERYTHING Joseph tells her to do once the seance begins. She’s abstained from relations, undergone a strict diet, and purified herself religiously (not to mentioned payed Joseph 80,000 lbs) in preparation, and now it’s time for the experience.

    Joseph himself is a little conflicted about the situation. Not because he’s going to delve into the dark arts, but because he senses some conflict within Sophia herself. Instinctually he recognizes that she is holding back, and decides to call the whole thing off. After Sophia opens up about her boy’s murder, he decides to go along with the dark scenario, and begins the convoluted ritual that will open up the channel to the other real. Unlike most films, the seance doesn’t just involve a few chants and then a creepy ghosts appears in 15 minutes. It takes days of strange aberrations, and each one weirder than the next. Sophia starts to wonder if Joseph is just twisting her arm as the days and trials go on, each one getting weirder and weirder than the next. However, a breakthrough in the spiritual wall happens. One that allows Sophia a glimpse into another realm, and soon shes’ sucked into something that may swallow her whole due to the secrets that she contains within her heart.
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    A Dark Song is very much a slow burn horror flick. The first 45 minutes are set at a very languid and calm pace, allowing us to watch Joseph and Sophia interact with each other. The audience really isn’t sure what to make of the goings on, as there really isn’t that much to GO on, besides watching the man and women prepare for a dark ritual. Salt lines are set. Circles are drawn on the floor. Purification rituals are performed, and all seems to guide the woman towards a singular goal. I have to admit that I was a little taken aback by the nature of the film. It’s not so much horrific and twisted, as it is methodical and detailed. Most horror films that deal with a ritual take a certain part of the first or third act to complete it, but this one seem to take months. Months that require very specific and very unique circumstances to complete.

    Liam Gavin’s directorial/writer debut as a film maker is actually quite good, and the languid pace of the film really doesn’t hamper it all that much. The final act finally gives us the “goodies” so to speak, and it is so congruent with the happenings of the last hour that the final act just seamlessly shifts from nothing happening to intense visual horror without the viewer batting an eye. Not to mention the fact that it sports an ending that is one of the most satisfying that I’ve seen in an indie horror flick in quite some time. I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s not going to leave you feeling sick inside, but very satisfied considering the subject matter and pace that has gone on for the last hour and a half.




    Rating:

    Not Rated by the MPAA




    Video: :4stars:
    [​IMG]
    Once again I couldn’t find any conclusive information on the filming style, but considering that this is an IFC Midnight productions, you can be fairly certain that A Dark Song was filmed digitally. The normal grungy style is there, but it is extremely clean and crisp this go around. The English landscape is given a dark blue hue to tone down the colors, but still maintains a healthy amount of details inside of the dingy cottage. Facial tones are well defined and robust, while contrasts levels are a little on the muted side. Blacks and shadows tend to be the focus of the encode, and those are done with excellent results. The colors are a tad muted due to the deep shadowy blues employed, but there is some spit and polish to the gray and blue picture that is most pleasing. Shadows show off plenty of detail, and only minor spots of banding (and one shot of haloing around a face) bugger up the picture.







    Audio: :4stars:
    [​IMG]The simplistic film is pretty….well…simple, but it is definitely an effective track. The mix balances a good blending of dialog, creepy score, and banging special effects in the third act to create an excellent listening experience for the audience. Vocals are well defined, and cleanly replicated up front, and the score creates the background effect for a majority of the movie. There’s the occasional bump or crash in the little cottage to startle the listener, but it’s not until the third act when things get a bit crazy that anything substantial happens with the rear channels. LFE is tight and clean, with some solid ooomph to the bangs and crashes, and seamlessly blends in with the score. A well rounded track, Scream Factory gives us the obligatory 5.1 and 2.0 mixes, with the obvious benefit going towards the original 5.1 mix.





    Extras: :3stars:
    [​IMG]

    • Interviews with director Liam Gavin, actors Steve Oram and Catherine Walker, and director of photography Cathal Watters
    • Deleted Scenes
    • Storyboards
    • Theatrical Trailer








    Final Score: :3.5stars:


    A Dark Song is a slow burn flick that really falls into the horror/Drama side of the equation rather than straight up terror and nutsoid visuals. It takes a good portion of the film to really build up and pave the way for the ending, but once it does the movie delivers in spades. Let me take that back. It delivers across the board, but it takes a patience viewing to really eek out the most from the steadfast vision of Liam Gavin. Scream Factory has given it a very solid video and audio experience, and the extras are actually quite solid for being a minor horror release. While the film is not 100% perfect, and some might be put off by the extremely methodical pacing, but A Dark Song is a solid entry into the modern DTV horror universe. Recommended for a solid watch.




    Technical Specifications:

    Starring: Mark Huberman, Susan Loughnane, Steve Oram
    Directed by: Liam Gavin
    Written by: Liam Gavin
    Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
    Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0
    Studio: Scream Factory
    Rated: NR
    Runtime: 100 Minutes
    Blu-ray Release Date: September 5th, 2017







    Recommendation: Solid Watch

     
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  2. tripplej

    tripplej Senior AV Addict

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    Thanks for the review. Will add this to my watch list. :)
     
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  3. Asere

    Asere Senior Member

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    I am glad you got to review it before I see it. I saw Netflix has it but didn't know what to make of it before your review. I will watch it now and Thank you for reviewing it.
     
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  4. Asere

    Asere Senior Member

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    Are you going to review It Comes at Night?
     
  5. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    no, we didn't receive a review copy
     
  6. Asere

    Asere Senior Member

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    That's too bad I would have liked reading your review. I do plan on watching it though as it looks good.
     
  7. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    it was a solid movie IMO... not perfect, but quite fun. I'd give it a 4/5
     
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