A Dark Song

Steve Arviso - October 24, 2018 - Madness /

A Dark Song, from writer-director Liam Gavin, is a movie that exists. It’s about a supposedly guilt-ridden woman who recently lost her son attempting some ancient ritual that will allow her to speak with him once more. Also, the guy she pays to help her. I have no clue if any of this is true or how it pans out, because this 90-minute movie is no hurry to get to the fuckin’ point.

Honestly. If the movie had opened with the death of her son, I may have been inclined to stick around a bit longer.

A Dark Song is yet-another non-starter of a movie. The page-ten moment is simply the main character finally revealing why we’ve bothered wasting some ten minutes watching her buy a house in the middle of nowhere and annoying a chubby ginger man at a glacial pace. There is no inciting incident. No forward momentum, character building, drama, or tension. It’s just this ungodly slow-burn mystery of whether or not any of this shit is worth it to anyone.

And I don’t just mean that as a snarky remark on the nothingness that is this movie. The movie itself is actually about the physical and psychological toll this long, drawn-out ritual takes on the people performing it.

But it’s also less about the characters who are suffering and more about the suffering itself. Because this isn’t us watching a woman moving heaven and earth to speak with her son. It’s about the mystery of the ritual even being a real thing. It’s about a woman and her partner in crime suffering slowly and boringly for 90 minutes while we wonder where this is all going.

And that could work, in theory. A two-person, single-location film about the lengths someone will go to have their prayers answered can be absolutely compelling. There’s so much material to be mined there from the right cast with the right director with the right vision for the right material.

Unfortunately, A Dark Song really has is a very, very good idea. Gavin frames and drags out everything in the most boring way possible. The acting is as flat and lifeless as the lighting and color. And the material is way too thin for even an 80-minute movie.

And I can tell a lot of this was done on purpose. I can tell the intent was to create a sense of mood and atmosphere befitting of two broken and deeply depressed lost souls at their most vulnerable. To create some mystery and allure. But all this really does is make the movie come across as both boring and bored of itself.

I’d love to see this story handled by more capable hands. But I wouldn’t spend another minute of my time with this version.

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