A Detailed Walkthrough of the Movie Dark Song
A Detailed Walkthrough of the Movie Dark Song - or how this hyperrealistic movie about invoking spiritual revenge was just so mind blowingly intense.
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Generally here at THiNC. I don’t make a thing about my faith. But today, I will. I’m going to make a big thing about it. But only because that is literally what this movie is begging for. A detailed, 100% theological, yet 100% ontological tear down. Wait, what? Holmes, you are totally trippin’ balls right now. What are you even talkin’ ’bout? OK, let’s start at the beginning. Just trust me, we need a detailed walkthrough of the Movie Dark Song…

A Dark Song is a head trip MindJob of epic cosmological proportions. But the setup is scary simple. A woman with a dark stain of a past searches out an occultist to help her find revenge. Sophia is an innocent, if scarred, ex-mother who wants nothing more than to make some people hurt. And she’s convinced the best way to do that is to draw back the curtains between this dimension and the next and invoke a power that created the heaven’s and the earth. Or the power of it’s demonic hellspawn…either one, she doesn’t mind which one wields the sword. But she may not even survive the rituals necessary to make it happen.

Do I have your attention now? So, yeah – this movie begs for a theological lobotomization and detailed dissection. But first – in order to continue on any further on this post – you HAVE to watch the movie first. You can find it over on Netflix. Or on Amazon for a couple bucks if you don’t Netflix for some odd reason. And here is a trailer that I am putting a hex on in order to keep you from watching it. Do NOT watch this trailer – just dive in. (Except if you are a bit of a scaredy cat – then watch it and determine if you can handle the bigger movie.)

Mary, Moses, & Joseph is this a crazy film. OK. First things first – let’s talk through what exactly happened. And then we’ll talk about WHAT THE @#[email protected]#$ HAPPENED. OK? Great. Buckle up, because this is going to be a bumpy ride.

A Dark Song Movie Walkthrough

The movie opens with Sophia (which means Wisdom in the Greek – which means a lot in the context of this movie – but we’ll get to that later, I promise.) meeting Joseph Solomon (which are also two very fascinating Biblical names) to discuss whether or not he would take on her case. Sophia has a house prepared for the intense needs required for the ritual. And she is planning to pay him £80k quid, which is basically $100k, in order to do this job. But when Joseph asks Sophia why she wants this job done, she says, “For love.” And his response is one of my favorite lines in the movie – “Doing this to force love is like getting Titian to decorate a cake.” Which, he refuses to do, until she stops lying to him, and tells him that she is doing it for her son who was murdered.

While the pair are preparing to hunker down in the house for upwards of six months without leaving, Sophia bumps into her sister Victoria at the grocery store. Now Victoria is a Christian – maybe also of a more Evangelical variety(?), we aren’t told – and the two have a knock down drag out fight about what it is that Sophia is about to do. In the middle of the verbal fisticuffs Victoria says, “I believe in God,” and Sophia retorts with “What’s that supposed to mean?” Implying that she too believes in God. And that is when Victoria responds with the question du jour: “Is it Godly?” And there is the crux of the problem here for Christians everywhere watching this film. Heck, that is the question for all movie goers, regardless of theological affiliation – what side of the spiritual divide are we invoking here? Who’s going to show up at this party when the punch and balloons are finally out. When the dancing starts, who are we actually going to be dancing with? Because the rituals, the rules, the cleansing rights that the two are planning to go through seem to hail more from the Satanic Cult side of the divide, than from any Church experience I’ve ever been to. But hey, the movie is young, it may turn the corner. (Or not. hahahaha.)

And Joseph Solomon, our hero who is “assisting” our wilting violet? He is extraordinarily less than perfect. Not as in, an anti-hero, but rather a detoxing alcoholic who is twitching at the thought of being without alcohol for 6 months. From a purely spiritualistic standpoint, alcohol is a vice. It’s our cue card for sin. And yes, this was intentionally placed here for a larger communicatory purpose. These won’t be the penitent petitions of a saint beseeching God on Sophia’s behalf. Rather, they’d be the detailed rituals and lever pullings of a truly selfish opportunist. This snippet of a conversation between Sophia and Joseph tells us everything we need to know:

Sophia: “Have you seen anything that scares you?”

Joseph: “It all scares me.”

Sophia: “Then why?”

Joseph: “To know the architecture, the levers.”

Sophia: “Power?”

Joseph: “Knowledge.”

When the rituals begin, I just stared agog at the ritual and detailed intricacy of the utter thoroughness of everything that our writer and director, Liam Gavin, crafted for us here. It’s so detailed, and so crazy, I’ve started chatting with Mr. Gavin about doing an interview with us here about this utter insanity he threw at us. But the intricacies aside, the basic intent here is for Joseph to wedge open a door to the spiritual world long enough for both of them to ask (command?) their favor. Sophia will ask to have these dark forces filet her son’s murderers from the inside out. And Joseph will ask for invisibility in order to escape this world, to get away from the pain all around him. (Invisibility being just another vice to replace his alcoholism with, apparently.)

As the ritual begins to start working (birds flying into windows, flowers blooming where they shouldn’t, noises throughout the house) they double down on the rituals. But one of the steps requires that Sophia forgive. Sophia though is going to impale her son’s murderers on spiritual spits and she is going to watch demons or angels boil them in their own murderous rage. So, yeah, Sophia is having none of this forgiveness drivel. But that requires Joseph to do a different ritual as an end around. That ritual, basically lead him to drown her in a bathtub and then resuscitate her. Death/Forgiveness. But they bypassed the pesky forgiveness requirement. Sophia though, is insane with the waiting, and needs something to happen. And in their tussle, Joseph is stabbed through with a steak knife. They clean it and mend him as best they can, but they can’t leave now. They can’t walk out of the house, the house is sealed. But eventually the wound festers and infection spreads. They continue with the rituals, but eventually Joseph dies, and the dark forces mark through his ritual books, basically trapping Sophia in the house. She even leaves at one point, but her car is dead, and her wanderings just lead her right back to the house again. Sophia is trapped in the land of the in-between.

But that is when the movie really kicks in. Sophia begins talking with demons that are posing as her son trying to convince her that they are him. Demons chase her down and cut fingers off, and she flees. And she eventually tells the door, where she was talking with her “boy,” that she was so sorry. And soon after she is surrounded by light. Which is when her guardian angel, or some angelic being, appears before her. And it is then that she knows that she is supposed to ask for her favor. Knowing full well that she needs to ask for vengeance, she can’t bring herself to do it. Instead she asks to forgive.

A Dark Song – What Just Happened?

Across the duration of the movie we are given a number of different thoughts as to what Joseph is attempting to do here. It’s sort of a theological grab bag of buzz phrases and ideas. Kabbala, Numerology, Gnosticism, Catholicism, Hinduism. Rituals invoke Orpheus (the son of Apollo), Horus (the ancient Egyptian god of the sky), Baal (the generic name for local deities), Christ. Joseph and Sophia speak in clipped shorthand of insiders who already know what it is that they are attempting to accomplish. So we aren’t given a full explanation of exactly what it is that they are following. But Joseph has done this before, and he has been successful. Either that or he is a really dedicated huckster. But the movie’s realism lends credibility to the process and the rituals. It’s being steeped in extreme realism helps to sell this endeavor as real and true. “Is science all there is?” “Science describes the least of things.”

And I, for one, agree with this. I believe that God created the heaven, and the earth. I believe that on the seventh day, God created man and woman. That this all powerful being walked in the cool of the morning with His creation as it was ordained for us to do as well. But then sin came into the world…will, stiffneckedness, and we were separated from God. A perfect God cannot commune with sin or He would be immediately rendered imperfect. Similar to our fall, a third of the angels in heaven fell as well. Which brings us to principalities and powers. Supernatural realities that exist all around us whether we are aware of them or not. And to make a way for you and me back to Him, to battle for your condemned soul, God sent Himself – His son, to live a perfect life on the earth, and to die (Deicide) on our behalf so that we can be reunited with Him, to one day again, walk in the cool of the morning with Him.

But you don’t believe in God. OK. Fair enough. But this movie does. So, no offense intended, but this movie happens to believe, or the characters do – extraordinarily firmly – that the spiritual world is real. And as a result, this movie wants to deal with two truths simultaneously. The first is that there is a spiritual world that surrounds us each and every day. You know, all the demons and the angels, that sort of thing. And the second is that it is possible to invoke these entities for our personal vendettas and revenges if we are thorough in our invocations.

What Do We Know About Demons?

Seeing as though Sophia and Joseph are coming at this ritual with a general Christian framework, why don’t we flip through the Bible for a moment to see what it says about angels and demons, etc.? This movie is, after all, a hyper-realistic sort of movie. The mechanics of their actions are grounded in reality. The pain of their travails are all grounded in reality. So we might as well see what this spiritual framework that they are invoking says about their attempt.

Possibly the most interestingly relevant detail about demons that I have found is that demons are able to take shape, and form. That they are able to become visible to humans. I’m looking at Job 4 here – “Now a word was brought to me stealthily, and my ear received a whisper amid disquieting thoughts from the visions of the night,When deep sleep falls on men. Dread came upon me, and trembling, and made all my bones shake. Then a spirit passed by my face. The hair of my flesh bristled up. It stood still, but I could not discern its appearance; a form was before my eyes; there was silence, then I heard a voice: ‘Can mankind be just before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker?” But I must say, that this was on the only scripture I found that even slightly indicated spirits can even closely take physical form.

Angels on the other hand, they did this trick regularly and with fantastic effect. Heck, even for the non-Christian readers you can think of numerous examples of this just from the Christmas story. Gabriel appeared to Mary to inform her of the coming Messiah. A multitude of angels informed the shepherds of the birth of Jesus. And when they appeared, what was the very first thing they always said, do not be afraid. Why? Because angels are unbelievably powerful and scary to behold apparently. Look at the encounter between Zechariah in the temple in Luke 1. Gabriel appears to him to tell him of Christ’s coming – “Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias.” When angels materialize, there is a lot of falling down that happens. A lot of fear. A whole lot of pants-wetting I’m sure happened. (No, I don’t have a Biblical reference for that last assertion.)

We also know that demons have the ability to plague individuals. (The modern phrase we give this is possession – demon possession – but that literal phrase isn’t in the Bible. The Greek and even the Hebrew literally has more of a “hold.”) Think of the man that encountered Jesus who was held by many demons who went by the name of Legion, (Mark 5:9 & Luke 8:30). But simultaneously, the Bible is clear that God has dispatched angels to watch over you: Psalm 91:11-12 “He will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Now, it isn’t clear if it’s a man-to-man sort of a defense, or a zone defense (personally think zone makes more sense, but what do I know?) that we are talking about here. But the point being that these powerful beings are there to look out for you.

So there are angels. There are demons. Angels are wicked powerful, and demons could get a hold of you and make your day a bad day. And angels can intervene on your behalf.

Who was that at the end of the movie?

This movie is horribly confusing when it comes to the end. We watch as these two people try rite after rite as they attempt to summon and control a spiritual being to do their will. These sorts of dark rituals seem more in common with a Satanic ritual, than with a Godly prayer. Throughout the Bible I can’t think of a single time when someone was able to force God’s hand to do something on their behalf. Through prayer and fasting maybe. But we get the sense here that if Joseph and Sophia manipulate the rites correctly, they will be able to summon someone, or something, that will come and do their bidding. And that is the interesting hook of the movie. Everything is a dark art – and filled with evil portent. Sophia’s being drowned in the tub. The “blood sacrifice.” The incantations all seem to invoke a bit of a dark supposition. But then, after Joseph dies, and we come cartwheeling into the end there is this bright white, warrior thing that happens! So, what is that all about?

Theory #1 – A Demon

You read the depiction of a demon taking material form in Job (the only place in the Bible where that seems to happen). It seemed to be a dark, shadowy figure. So that this is a demon, interacting with Sophia, doesn’t make a whole ton of sense. Especially since we saw the movie’s depictions of demons, and they are decidedly not like this. So no…probably not a demon.

Theory #2 – Satan

Woah, what?!? Satan?!? Hahah. Well, actually, this one makes way, way more sense than you might realize at first. I mean, it decidedly makes more sense than a demon. Not sure if you know this, but when Satan lived as an Angel, he went by the Hebrew word הֵילֵל, transliterated hêylêl – or pronounced hay-lale. When translated into English it is the world Lucifer, which is the same word used for the planet Venus. The word Lucifer connotes the meaning “light-bringing,” or morning star. And in Second Corinthians 11:14, it says, “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” So I’m not so sure the movie is too far off in a pretty fair representation of Satan if that was what they were going for. But there is one key detail that seems to hint that this wasn’t Satan.

Theory #3 – A Guardian Angel

There is nothing in the Bible that even distantly hints that it’s possible to summon an angel. The Christian Church in the New Testament is encouraged to treat all people kindly, with hospitality, because they would never know if they were actually encountering angels. (Don’t believe me? Hebrews 13:2 “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”) So angels sort of seem like they come and go as they please. Sure, they proclaimed the enormous happenings. But in their protective roles, sometimes they very well may just come and stay the night, and hang out with you. Which, seems to indicate they don’t have to glow! hahahaha.

But the fear, the awe of this situation, is more in line with angels as herald. Angels as mighty warrior. Right? But even though it is impossible to invoke a guardian angel, we seem to be looking at an invoked angel here at the end. How do we know this though? Well, consider her response to him. What is it that she ends up asking for? “Forgiveness.” Wait, WHAT? Sophia wants to be able to forgive her child’s murderers? Woah. I’m not thinking that this would be her response if Lucifer himself were standing in the room with her. No, he is a thief, a murderer, a destroyer. There is no way that he would invoke that sort of response. He would encourage her most devious desires. Maybe though, because her response seems pure, this actually is an angel.

Oh, and also because Liam Gavin says so in this video right here. (Hopefully I’ll get a chance to interview him soon. He is currently in Wales with his mother, but I’m hopeful I’ll be able to interview him within the week to ask my own questions. We shall see.)

But it logically doesn’t make sense to invoke an angel. It’s antithetical to how they work. So what actually happened here? Could it be that Sophia was on the verge of summoning something dark that was about to do her bidding? Might she have almost been successful? But the only flaw in that is that all dark invocations come with a cost. She would have been indebted to this spirit. The ritual would have backfired in some weird way. And the spirit would have been the one that was ultimately in control. Knowing this, could this angel have intervened on Sophia’s behalf? Could it be that he vanquished the demon and arrived in its place instead? Was Sophia pure in spite of her internal hatred towards her son’s killers? Did God step in to intervene on her behalf, protecting her, in spite of her own rage and vitriol?

Theory 4 – A Metaphor

Or maybe the ending is more of a metaphor. Could it be that we watched Sophia walk through this horrific journey of grief and heart-rending pain, in the form of demons and ritualistic punishments only to come out the other side purified by the process? Yeah, no, I don’t think so either! hahaha. Just kidding. The metaphor theory works on a lot of different levels simultaneously. But it isn’t a firm answer to anything, and it really is just a cop out. But who’s to say that the answer can’t be both Theory #3 – an angel, as well as also Theory #4 – a metaphor?

Concluding Thoughts on A Dark Song

This movie is not for everyone. I asked a good friend to watch, and they were like, yeah, not my favorite. That ending was so out of the blue I thought I missed something. Which is fair. The angel’s arrival definitely isn’t the assumed path that we were on. It’s a right hook of an ending. But Sophia’s journey through hell itself was a journey that could have caused her to realize she wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Again – I’m sorry if this movie broke you. It definitely caused me a large portion of psychic trauma! hahah. What did you guys think of the movie? What theory makes the most sense to you? Thanks for recommending we look at this movie DeKev! If you are looking for movies like this one, you would do well to consider Mandy, maybe A Ghost Story, Mother!, or maybe even the best comparison would be the movie Faults.

Edited by: CY

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4 Responses

  1. Lisa

    So, I just watched this and enjoyed it. I personally found it ambiguous because when Sophia is having the conversation with her sister, a psychiatric stay is mentioned. So did it all happen or not? Not really sure but she got to the forgiveness part at the end even if she did dunk a body after!

    Reply
  2. deKev

    Not being a religious person myself, most of those religious subtexts you mentioned just went over my head, and yet the movie works a treat for me too, mostly for the redemption arc of Sophia. And how can anyone not be awed by the appearance of that magical, other-worldly being by the end of the film?

    And oh, I read somewhere that the ritual depicted in the movie is based on a system of magic from The Book of Abramelin, an honest-to-goodness ancient grimoire for summoning one’s guardian angel.

    Reply
  3. Taylor Holmes

    I’ll have to look it up. But, knowing the theological implications of “summoning an angel” I’d bet you a buck and a quarter that you’d just be summoning a demon. But I’m splitting hairs at this point.

    Anyway, it was a mindjob of a movie – and I too loved the redemption arc of Sophia. The contemplation and realization of what she was wishing on her child’s murderers, and the need for forgiveness. It sort of reminded me of the story arc and journey in the movie They Look Like People. Interesting.

    Reply
  4. Laura Ferson

    I loved this movie the first time I saw and I still gasp at how beautiful that scene is with the angel.

    Reply

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