Sunday, April 30, 2017

Ritual de Habitual

A Dark Song (2016) - Gavin
Sophia (Catherine Walker) is seen renting out a big old house in the Welsh countryside, money doesn't seem to matter. As long as the windows are facing west, she'd take it. There is a sense of desperation in her. She picks up Mr. Solomon (Steve Oram), a bearded, track suited occultist at a train station. He has barrage of questions. He is direct and rude. Sophia doesn't seem to mind all that. It turns out she spoke with other occultist and she chose him. She says she's doing it for love. He scoffs. Once he gets there, looking around, and asking more questions, Solomon says the house is wrong and Sophia is not being truthful in her intentions and he is leaving. Back at the station, Sophia confesses that it's her dead son. She wants very much to communicate with him one more time. He softens and agrees to partake in the ritual only under his strict, at times brutal rules. They stack up food and supplies for 6 to 8 months. They surround the house in lime sulfur circle. So starts A Dark Song, a superb thriller that's unlike anything I've seen.

Writer/Director Liam Gavin doesn't go for cheap thrills or emotional fireworks so prevalent with this genre. He takes time to build up to a rather conventional, religious- good versus evil ending. But it is so earned and beautifully done, by the time it comes around I was already sold on the film long ago, it didn't really matter. A Dark Song is all about anticipation or process of anticipation. The premise is set up. Sophia has to prepare for the grueling process Solomon prepares for her - gradually abstaining food, water, sleep and sex, sitting and staying in a drawn circle or square in each room for days, daily cold water cleanse, reading ritual texts and drawing continuously on the floor, and even ritual sex. I love rituals in films. Some sort of daily order fascinates me. That's why I love films like Innocence, Institute Benjamenta and The Ring Finger.

Steve Oram (Sightseers) and Catherine Walker are both great, giving tremendous, natural performances as damaged characters. They don't have to have character arcs. Sophia wants vengeance for the killers of her son. Solomon is merely doing his job - helping her get what she paid for through his unrelenting, brutal rituals. There are moments of tenderness and sexual tensions rising from being two of them alone for a long time, but these don't overshadow the overall film. Dark, gripping and beautiful, A Dark Song is a great film.

No comments:

Post a Comment