Fresh off of the world premiere at the Sitges Film Festival, the newest cinematic offering from Stephen Biro and Unearthed films, The Song of Solomon has summoned the beginning of a new day in independent horror.
It is a rare instance when a filmmaker can mesh horror and religion and not be either overtly preachy or exploitative. With The Song of Solomon, Stephen Biro has accomplished what precious few filmmaker’s before him have been able to do. He has made an exorcism film that will please both the gore hounds and those that enjoy a deeper meaning with their film viewing experience. During the packed house premiere at the Sitges Film Festival there were multiple people in the audience that had to temporarily leave the screening during the more extreme exorcism scenes and even a patron who fainted during the film. While this is a badge of honor for a horror film it also speaks to the power that a genre film can have on an unsuspecting audience.
On the surface the plot is that of any other exorcism film. A woman, Mary in this instance is suffering from demonic possession and the Catholic Church sends wave after wave of holy men to do battle with the demon in an attempt to save the soul of the young woman. This is where the film stops with any comparison to exorcism films of the past. The film is chock full of biblical references and those that know their theology will be greatly rewarded with the subtle nuances that fill the scenes. I highly recommend that viewers pay attention to the dialog as clues abound as to what is lurking in the ominously candle lit bedroom of the possessed. For those that enjoy the crimson and gore, the offerings provided here will shake the psyche. During the final two acts of the film the otherworldly practical FX work provided by Marcus Koch and Jerami Cruise sets the bar for other artists to try and top. These days it’s extremely rare to see a film with 100% practical FX and for it to be provided by two of the best artists working in the genre today is a gift of utter beauty.
In the acting department the bulk of any exorcism film is going lay at the feet of the possessed and in this instance Jessica Cameron gives a master class in her portrayal of Mary. Jessica poured 100% of herself into this role and the results show onscreen. From the supposed innocent looks she gives trying to pass herself off to a shrink to the end of days final moments, she owns the role and cements a genre performance that viewers will admire for years to come. In the fight for her soul, Jim Van Bebber, David E. McMahon, Gene Palubicki, and Scott Gabbey provide the different flavors of priests ranging from the warrior to the defeated and do so with gusto. Maureen Pelamati also has a great role as Mary’s mother and it is always a treat to see her on screen in a horror film.
An independent horror film is insanely hard to even get made in the first place. Once in a while one or two will strike a nerve with mainstream audiences. I firmly believe that The Song of Solomon has the ability to hit horror loving viewers where it hurts which is in the heart and soul. Be sure to keep this film on your radar once more festival dates are announced and for all that is holy if you hear a woman singing the song of Solomon run like hell.
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