A Dark Song is a slow-burner in the best way as the occult horror drama unfolds. You can’t really rush these things, but don’t worry: The horror is ever-present!

A Dark Song poster - review of occult horror dramaThe story in A Dark Song primarily takes place inside an old mansion. Of course, such a mansion is located in the middle of nowhere. Where no one can hear you scream. Not that you’ll experience many screams in A Dark Song because the two main characters are extremely dedicated to their work.

The “work” they’re busy with in A Dark Song is performing an occult ritual. The purpose is to bring forth an angel, who will supposedly grant them a wish. Any wish they have. The two main characters don’t know each other prior to this story. One is a woman wanting to do the ritual while the other is a man, who is an expert at performing said ritual.

You might think this is some hoax, but I assure you it is dealt with as a very serious matter. And that’s precisely why A Dark Song works! And trust me, it really does work. 

A Dark Sonis dark in every way

There really isn’t much to smile about when watching A Dark Song. I don’t mean this to be a critique but merely to illustrate that the story and movie is very dark. The story is sad and deals with the occult, which is certainly very dark.

The movie itself takes place inside an old mansion for the most part. Again, since A Dark Song deals with the occult, we’re often watching the characters working on their rituals in the dark. Either because it’s at night or simply because they’ve made the room dark. Candlelight doesn’t really work well in daylight, so it’s necessary to keep the happy daylight out.

A Dark Song review - occult horror drama

However, I am very happy to report that cinematographer, Cathal Watters, has some amazing shots throughout the movie. We experience the darkness that the characters are working in while managing to see everything.

It works so much better than the blue filter some blockbusters try to fool us with. Or going all the way into the darkness and creating so much darkness that we, the audience, simply can’t see anything. No wonder it earned Cathal Watters the “Best Cinematography in a Feature Film” Jury Prize at Monster Fest 2016.

Kudos for keeping us all onboard without compromising the experience. 

Powerful and intense performances in strong debut

I am amazed that Liam Gavin wrote and directed this movie as a feature film debut. There’s nothing about A Dark Song that feels like a debut. Then again, Liam Gavin has been writing and directing short films since 2002. A total of four short films before this strong feature film debut. His next project is The Furious Poet, which is still in pre-production.

And really, this story is all about the characters and their experience of going through this ritual. This means it’s all about the actors and their chemistry, Fortunately, it’s spot-on!

I wasn’t really familiar with Catherine Walker before watching A Dark Song, but I certainly am now. She was breathtaking in so many scenes. Not only does your heart break for her, when you hear her story, but you also feel the rage she has. And more than anything, I found myself respecting her life choices, which is no small thing. I mean, she is dedicating months of her life to this ritual.

A Dark Song review - occult horror drama - Catherine Walker

Still, Catherine Walker had me on board for her character’s story from the get-go.

The other star of the movie is Steve Oram, whom I already adored from his crazy portrayal in Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers. That’s where he co-starred with Alice Lowe of the brilliant Prevenge. His character in A Dark Song seems strangely familiar due to him still having his impressive red beard, but this is absolutely a different character.

A Dark Song premiered in its native Ireland back in July 2016 and has gone on to play at various film festivals worldwide. It even won the “New Visions Award” for Best Motion Picture at Sitges (Catalonian International Film Festival) last year.

Fortunately, you’ll soon get the chance to check it out as IFC Midnight is releasing it on April 28, 2017.


Director: Liam Gavin
Writer: Liam Gavin
Cast: Catherine Walker, Steve Oram, Mark Huberman, Susan Loughnane


A determined woman and a damaged occultist risk both their lives and souls to perform a dangerous ritual that should grant them a wish.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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