Release Date(s)2017 (August 14, 2018)
Studio(s)Oddtopsy FX/Unearthed Films (Unearthed Films)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: B
Song of Solomon was written, produced, and directed by Stephen Biro, a director known for ignoring good taste when it comes to visceral horror. His gore-splattered films come laden with special effects that often overshadow the plot.
Song of Solomon is a thinly disguised attempt to capitalize on the iconic scare classic, The Exorcist. Mary (Jessica Cameron, Mania) is a young woman traumatized by witnessing her father’s suicide. Despite seeing a therapist, she soon exhibits bizarre physical and emotional changes. A series of doctors fails to help her and her condition worsens. She appears to be possessed by some force that controls her motor functions. The Catholic Church hierarchy learns of the case and regards it as particularly significant. A series of exorcist priests are sent to save Mary from demonic possession but are stymied, and bodies begin to pile up.
A related sub-plot involves sinister forces within the Catholic Church and how the End of Days will be loosed upon the world with famine, drought, lawlessness, and chaos ripping civilization asunder.
So the stakes are high to perform a successful exorcism. Horror movie fans will know that a battle between demonic forces and human beings is going to be long and difficult with many casualties along the way.
Director Biro relies on several techniques to heighten tension. The story takes place primarily in Mary’s bedroom, creating a claustrophobic atmosphere. Once the exorcism begins, the priests cannot stop, despite the mounting danger and the angry evil power manifested through Mary. By making an innocent young woman the human source of the horror, exhibiting vile, despicable behavior, Biro plays on gender expectations to make the demonic possession that much more monstrous.
With its many similarities in plot to The Exorcist, director Biro sets his movie apart with gore. Floors are saturated with human blood, blood flows freely from gaping wounds, eyes and tongues are plucked out, veins are opened, and characters self-mutilate. The effects are pretty good, a plus for horror fans who like grisly, over-the-top graphic violence. Song of Solomon delivers to the point that a barf bag might be welcome.
Cameron, older than Linda Blair when she starred in The Exorcist, bases her performance on Blair’s with hair-raising dialogue delivery, obscene gestures, involuntary body movements, and creepy facial expressions. She adds an element of coyness, as if she’s flirting with the priests as they go through the exorcism ritual, which gives the movie a layer of sexual taboo.
The other performances range from fair to good but the characters, other than Mary, don’t stand out and are there mostly to be dispatched in the worst ways imaginable.
Song of Solomon is part of the American Guinea Pig series, initiated by Stephen Biro in 2014 after securing the rights to the Guinea Pig name. The original Guinea Pig films were a series of graphic, extremely violent Japanese horror movies released from the mid-1980s through the early 1990s. The controversial series gained a cult following and was legally banned in Japan. The first film in the American Guinea Pig franchise was Bouquet of Guts and Gore. Other titles in the American series include Flower of Flesh and Blood, Bloodshock, and Sacrifice. All share similarities with films in the Japanese series. Song of Solomon, however, breaks from the decades-old series, since it doesn’t recycle old storylines.
The widescreen Blu-ray release has a crisp picture, even during atmospheric scenes with limited light. Exorcism scenes feature warm colors with the exception of red for the many blood-filled sequences, made more powerful because they so dominate the rest of the color palette. The stereo soundtrack is most effective during the exorcism scenes, when sound comes from all directions with numerous crossovers from one speaker to the next, giving a “right there” feel to the action. Unfortunately, actors tend to mumble and dialogue is difficult to discern, which is particularly annoying when it is expository.
Bonus materials include audio commentary with director Stephen Biro and actress Jessica Cameron; audio commentary with Biro, special effects supervisor Marcus Koch, and make-up effects artist Jerami Cruise; 20-minute interview with Jessica Cameron; interview with writer/director Stephen Biro; interview with special effects make-up supervisor Marcus Koch; lengthy interview with Director of Photography Chris Hilleke; 70-minute behind-the-scenes documentary containing on-set footage; discussion of how certain special effects shots were created; outtakes; photo gallery; theatrical trailer; and 10 trailers from Unearthed Films, including the entire American Guinea Pig series.
Though the extras are more plentiful than in other horror Blu-ray releases, they are either too long, repetitive, or not terribly revealing. The feature-length documentary is the best bonus extra, since it shows in detail the rigors of putting together a horror movie with extensive special effects. This featurette illustrates how these effects take time and considerable money to stage and film.
- Dennis Seuling