Su­per­mas­sive black magic

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - TARA BRADY

A DARK SONG Di­rected by Liam Gavin. Star­ring Steve Oram, Cather­ine Walker. Cert 16, se­lect re­lease, 99mins Joseph Solomon (Oram), is an ex­pe­ri­enced oc­cultist with all the charm of a wounded loan shark. Hav­ing re­ceived a gob­s­mack­ing amount of money from griev­ing Sophia (Walker), the bick­er­ing pair re­treat to an iso­lated house in ru­ral Wales with to per­form the Abramelin.

“The Abramelin,” ex­plains Solomon, un­help­fully. “It’s es­sen­tially a jour­ney. That’s a poor metaphor, that is, but it will do for now.”

They may be some time. At Solomon’s urg­ing they have pur­chased six-to-eight months worth of meat. Dur­ing the Abramelin pe­riod they may not leave the house. Sophia hopes that the elab­o­rate rit­ual will al­low her to once again speak with her guardian an­gel, and, ul­ti­mately, with her dead son.

Bad signs: Cather­ine Walker

But might Solomon be some kind of crazy, meat-lov­ing con artist? Why on earth would the Abramelin re­quire Sophia to shave his arms?

Af­ter an un­spec­i­fied pe­riod of weird wa­tery cer­e­monies, sleep de­pri­va­tion, blood-drink­ing and at least one un­pleas­ant sex­ual en­counter, she be­gins to ques­tion his de­mand­ing rit­u­als. He, in turn, points to “signs”. When an un­wit­ting bird flies into the win­dow, that’s a sign. Or might it just be an un­wit­ting bird?

Am­bi­gu­ity soon segues into full-blown weird­ness.

This novel, nifty Ir­ish horror plays in­trigu­ing, con­trary games with ex­pec­ta­tion. One could eas­ily see Oram’s lowlife necro­mancer is not at all what one ex­pects to find in the movie in­dus­try’s su­per­nat­u­ral com­mu­nity. His per­for­mance works well against Cather­ine Walker, whose an­guish adds an en­tirely dif­fer­ent di­men­sion to writer-di­rec­tor Liam Gavin’s im­pres­sive debut fea­ture.

As is of­ten the case with spooky en­coun­ters, the fi­nal act strays not en­tirely suc­cess­fully into oper­atic Hell­raiser ter­ri­tory. But the two central per­for­mances, Cathal Wat­ters’ claus­tro­pho­bic lens­ing and Anna Maria O’Flana­gan’s trippy cuts en­sure there’s quite enough black magic.

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