Dark Touch Movie Review
Written by Simret Cheema-Innis aka Wickergirl
DVD released by Metrodome
Written and directed by Marina de Van
2013, 90 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 13th October 2014
Missy Keating as Niamh
Marcella Plunkett as Nat Galin
Padraic Delaney as Lucas Galin
Charlotte Flyvholm as Tanya Collins
Stephen Wall as Mathew Collins
There have been a number of films where children are feared, loathed or are positively dangerous to be around. Dark Touch is another example. In this case childlike innocence becomes shrouded in the sinister and supernatural. It is a psychological tale of horror that leads to some potentially disturbing revelations. Unfortunately that potential is never realised.
Set in a small community in Ireland, eleven-year-old Niamh (Missy Keating) becomes an orphan when her family are brutally murdered and her baby brother dies in what appears to be a vicious attack on the family. She's temporarily taken in by neighbours Nat and Lucas, who try to aid her recovery. But Niamh is an extremely traumatised young girl. She becomes emotionally isolated and it's not long before freakish occurrences plague her and everyone around her.
Other children start to gossip. They are wary of the outsider and the destruction that follows her wherever she goes. In her first week she manages to mysteriously blow the lights in the house and wreck the kitchen drawing Nat and Lucas to the conclusion that there's more to her story than the murder of her parents.
Caring for Niamh proves to be hard work. She wanders the streets at night. And refuses to wash. At a session with her school counsellor Niamh claims that she can move things with her mind and implies she was responsible for her parents' death. The counsellor laughs it off, but Niamh knows better and her trauma becomes a tool for revenge and retribution.
Comparison with Carrie is inevitable and Dark Touch will remind you of many other horror films, Orphan included. All that remains is to figure out what motivates the supernatural events. Is Dark Touch a fight between the supernatural and science? The film manages to misdirect the audience by suggesting that there's a ghost and that perhaps young Niamh is haunted as she tries to reject her telekinetic compulsions and protect her new family. But this idea evaporates as she starts to mysteriously hypnotise the other children around her, reminding me, at least, of The Children Of the Corn.
The narrative is deliberately ambiguous as it tries to tell a story about child abuse within the framework of the supernatural. But the eventual revelation is underwhelming. And confusing. This results in an unconvincing finale fuelled by melodrama and horror where the horror is better than the melodrama.
The concept of Dark Touch is clever but I feel it could have been handled more effectively as it has been in movies such as A Tale of Two Sisters, Switchblade Romance and Silent House, all of which manage not only to terrify and entertain, but to draw to reasonably logical conclusions. Without that all you have is a collection of unanswered questions. And therein lies the frustration.