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Catherine Walker

“A DARK SONG” My rating: B

100 minutes | No MPAA rating

It’s easy enough to scare audiences with shocker editing and gross-out special effects.

But a film that gets under your skin and gnaws away at your nerve endings from the inside out…well, that’s something special.

“A Dark Song” is a horror movie, yes, but it’s also much more.

It’s a docudrama about the preparations for an Aleister Crowley-style summoning of demons and angels.

It’s a two-handed acting extravaganza that demands tremendous subtlety from stars Catherine Walker and Steve Oram.

And it’s an unexpectedly uplifting morality play that toys with shock film cliches but ultimately transcends them.

Liam Gavin’s film opens in a long-unoccupied manor house in Wales. ¬†Sophia Howard (Walker) is being shown the place by a realtor. Apparently she has very specific requirements as to the remoteness of the property and the number of rooms. She agrees to lease the place for a year.

She’s then visited by Solomon (Oram), a balding, bearded, pudgy occultist with whom she’s been in contact. Gradually the nature of what they’re up to becomes clear.

Sophia wants Solomon to lead her through an elaborate ritual that will result in the appearance of her guardian angel. This exercise may take half a year, during which time Sophia must follow Solomon’s instructions to the letter. ¬†She’s already abstained from sex and alcohol for several months. She’s purchased weeks’ worth of food. Once the ritual begins neither can leave the premises without dire consequences.

Now this may seem like so much fantastic b.s., but Gavin and his players are so good at establishing their characters and setting a slowly tightening mood of suspense and dread that an audience can’t help but buy into it.

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