This movie is incredible. Like, watch it twice in the same 24 hour period incredible. If you have any interest whatsoever in occultism, A Dark Song is a must see. On the surface, it's just a movie with too people cooped up in a house, performing a complicated ritual. The film is layered, though. The motives of both Victoria and Joseph seem to be ever changing, which in turn makes the truth of the ritual itself questionable. It's no wonder that it takes try, after try, after try for them to make any progress as they attempt to summon Victoria's guardian angel. And this isn't a guardian angel in the glowing, loving, light sense. As a viewer you'll find yourself wondering if Joseph is up to no good, or if it's Victoria's lack on honestly that's throwing a wrench into things. Either way, the danger factor seems high, and the sense of dread is thick. Oh no, an Angel is not easy to summon, and for good reason.
If you have not seen this movie. Stop reading this review right now. Go watch it (it's on Netflix!)
The best thing about this A Dark Song is that it is clearly, incredibly well researched. The ritual depicted in the film is a real Enochian invocation, though the details are kept intentionally vague; I believe for the betterment of the picture. Whether you are aware of its accuracy or not, the steps that our two characters are taking in order to summon Victoria's angel feel incredibly real because of the eye for detail that's taken in the crafting of the scenes. The gorgeous chateau that it was filmed in frames every moment like painting. The drawings on the floors, the components of the spell, and the instructions given by Joseph (who claims he has done this twice before), all feel ominous in their simplicity. On top of all this, I don't think there are many modern actors who can play intimidating as well as Steve Oram (Joseph. See him also in Ben Wheatley's The Sightseers), and it comes from a surprising package with him. He doesn't look like an intimidating dude, but he can deliver his lines with the right intensity. When he tells Victoria that she has to do exactly what he says, you feel like she better do it. And when Joseph looks scared, you know it must be really bad.
I will admit one grievance with the film. The third act does become muddled. Once SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER ----> Joseph is impaled on a kitchen knife, rendering him bed ridden, Victoria's actions start to get confusing in sort of a bad way. It gets hard to tell where things are going, and in spite of the fact that the pair have already gone a bit off book to complete their task, her actions move beyond purpose. Joseph's warnings do manifest, but in kind of a weird, almost benign way. The effects in the final scenes make up for it, and I do find Victoria's final choices believable (I've seen many complain about her ultimate request for favor from the angel). Overall I felt satisfied, but I would have appreciated a little bit more clarity in those later scenes.
Definitely definitely definitely make time for it. And if you liked this movie and you want more like it, try any of the titles recommended by Ben and I on episode 109 of the Video Droogs podcast! (also, Kill List, A Field in England, and The Witch). Interested parties may also want to look into the basis for the ritual performed in this film. Apparently that old dog Aleister Crowley attempted (and completed) this same invocation in his heyday, in a home purchased for the single intent of performing the ritual. That house was later purchased by Jimmy Page who reported "many happenings" within its walls. Intrigue!