Monday, September 3, 2018

THE SONG OF SOLOMON (2017) Blu-ray review

The Song of Solomon (2017) d. Stephen Biro (USA)

Mary (Jessica Cameron) witnesses and/or causes the hysterical suicide of her father (writer-director-executive producer Stephen Biro), subsequently falling victim to what appears to be a full-blown demonic possession, complete with babbling voices, bizarre ocular occurrences (courtesy of snazzy sclera lenses), and an imperviousness to pain and good hygiene. This sparks a wave of priests descending upon her, each more determined than the last to rid the world of these dark forces, and the stage is set for the ultimate clash between Good and zzzzzzzzzzzz…

Who doesn’t want to make an exorcism flick? You get to shoot in one location (usually a bedroom), spew all sorts of bodily fluids, scream and swear and shout all manner of impressive-sounding religious gobbledegook, and it doesn’t have to make a lick of sense because, you know, S-A-T-A-N. There’s a reason this cinematic subgenre has flourished for nearly five decades since Williams Friedkin and Blatty unleashed the juggernaut that was The Exorcist in 1973.

Unfortunately, making an effective possession movie is quite another story, with imitators usually ignoring what made the original such a success (relatable characters and an authentic narrative arc within the supernatural setting) and delivering up the gooey, graphic, gory trimmings as the main dish. Such is the case with Song of Solomon, which props up its raison d’etre (elaborate yet utterly unconvincing practical special effects from Oddtopsy FX and Toetag EFX) with performances ranging from wooden to overripe, dialogue that shouldn’t have made it past the second draft, and an oozing sense of self-importance.

Biro is the gentleman behind Unearthed Films, which perhaps unsurprisingly is the film’s distributor. He’s also the man behind the new wave of "American Guinea Pig" films, also distributed by Unearthed, to which Song of Solomon belongs or doesn’t, depending on which poster art you come across. Cameron (Truth or Dare) and Jim VanBebber (The Manson Family) headline, both independent horror mavericks who have demonstrated deep conviction to their own projects and the genre overall, and they give their usual 100% here, with vanity-free performances beneath pounds of ick and gross.

Remember that “physically impossible but so damn shocking we went along with it” head-spinning bit from The Exorcist? Biro seeks to improve on it with an extended sequence of his poor possessed victim vomiting up her own entrails… and then re-ingesting them. For six minutes. Six. Flipping. Minutes. Suffice to say that it succeeds in being gross, then stupid, really stupid, somehow hypnotic in its stupidity, boring, really boring, still gross, back to stupid for a while, back to gross, somewhere along the line we find ourselves wondering if there was a bet on, and then finally, it’s over and the movie continues its plot, such as it is.

The Unearthed press kit claims the film contains “100% real exorcism rituals taken from the Exorcism book from the Vatican, De Exorcismus Suplicationibus Quibusdam,” so you’ve got that going for you, along with such humdingers as when a mysterious priest billed as “The Ordinary” solemnly intones to his latest bit of collared cannon fodder, “You’re our Hail Mary pass, pal.” Amidst the dross, there are a couple of interesting ideas revealed in the final act, but by then I was nearly too numb to care.

I’m not sure whose cup of pea soup this is, but it certainly wasn’t mine. That said, on the new Blu-ray, in addition to a making-of doc and outtakes, Biro appears on two commentary tracks, one with Cameron, and another with SPFX artists Marcus Koch and Jerami Cruise. There are also video interviews with Biro, Cameron, Koch, co-stars Gene Palubicki and David McMahon, and DP Chris Hilleke.

The Song of Solomon arrives on Blu-ray and DVD September 14 from Unearthed Films and MVD Entertainment and can be pre-ordered HERE:


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