Dark Touch presents itself as a solid Supernatural Horror/Haunted House film (and it is) but it’s much more.
Read my review after the jump.
Official Synopsis: In a remote town in Ireland, eleven-year-old Neve finds herself the sole survivor of a bloody massacre that killed her parents and younger brother. Suspecting a gang of homicidal vandals, the police ignore Neve’s explanation that the house is the culprit. To help ease her trauma, dutiful neighbors Nat and Lucas take her in with the supervision of a social worker. Neve has trouble finding peace with the wholesome and nurturing couple, and horrific danger continues to manifest.
Dark Touch is a deeply nuanced piece of cinema. On the surface, it’s a ghost story: A haunted house or poltergeist terrorizing a family. We soon come to suspect that young Neve is not merely the center of this paranormal activity, but the cause. Think a younger version of Carrie White: A pre-adolescent with a dangerous response to emotional triggers. (Don’t make her angry. You wouldn’t like her when she’s angry.) Even the title, Dark Touch, has multiple layers; does Neve possess a dark touch, a frightening gift that gives her control over inanimate objects—or is she the victim of someone else’s dark touch (bad touching)? And what about the eerie call-and-response whistling? Does Neve have a ghost-friend and, if so, who is causing the supernatural violence? And what about her creepy minions? Are they even real?
Don’t expect me or the filmmakers to give you any definitive answers. Dark Touch requires some extra brain-work from its viewers.
Neve, portrayed with unsettling depth by Missy Keating, is gloom personified. Neve makes Wednesday Adams seem like Punky Brewster by comparison. She is a child who never smiles, whose eyes communicate volumes of sorrow. Her aura is as gray as the autumn skies above and the school uniform she wears. She walks dim hallways that seem to constrict around her. Neve is constantly struggling to contain something terrifying within herself—a power that influences objects and human behavior. When she confesses her abilities, she’s met with typical adult disbelief and therefor finds no relief. She descends into a personal Hell, steeped in vengeance, and polluted with melted doll heads. Making this tale all the more tragic is that Neve craves nothing more then to be held lovingly—safe.
We expect to be frightened by Dark Touch, but the themes are alarmingly personal and evocative. This film is a morality tale and a warning. Abusive parents beware lest the vengeful poltergeist unleash its protective wrath.
The film’s gut-wrenching conclusion is meant to provoke questions. Is the ending fair? Do the parents get what they deserve? Do the children? When it comes to abuse Dark Touch has zero sympathy for practitioners—and even condemns those who may suspect the worst, but look the other way. All are culpable. No one is innocent. It’s a commentary on a specific (and loathsome) societal illness.
Don’t expect a happy ending or an upbeat viewing experience. Do, however, expect to be moved, frustrated, and horrified. Anyone looking for a multi-level cinematic experience, one drench in bleakness that will stick with you long after the credits roll, should add Dark Touch to their “Must Watch” list.
3.5 out of 5 Melted Doll Heads.
|Release Date||September 27 2013|
|Director||Marina de Van|
|Writer||Marina de Van|
|Starring||Art Parkinson, Anabel Sweeney, Padraic Delaney|