DARK TOUCH Movie Review
In 1976 we met the outcast teenager Carrie White and in 1984 we were introduced to child experiment gone wrong Charlie McGee, now filmmaker Marina de Van wants us to get acquainted with Neve (Niamh). Newly orphaned Neve is taken in by her parents’ friends after a family tragedy leaves her a lone survivor from an incident she claims their evil house was responsible for. Of course she is skeptically written off as being a victim of a traumatic adolescent experience and it soon becomes apparent that mischief will follow wherever Neve goes.
Dark Touch kicks off proceedings in typical straight forward horror movie fashion with visceral brutality and dreadful atmosphere that unfortunately loses consistency as the plot unfolds. This Irish gothic fable sets up an intriguing premise that goes for immediate shock value while setting up what would appear to be a psychological or possibly supernatural mystery that unfortunately doesn’t seem to have any idea where it was supposed to go. What we end up with is a heavy handed message concerning child abuse, heredity and abuse of authority. That would be perfectly okay with me if it was laced around a well thought out story and I certainly think it could have afforded to be more subtle if the story itself remained suspenseful and thoroughly planned.
Settling into Neve’s progression through rehabilitation, we are introduced to a pregnant social worker who seems to play a substantial role in moving the proceedings along as she reaches out to her deep rooted secrets which in turn should develop the mystery angle and explain all the bizarre murders. I wish I could say that her character stuck around long enough for that to be the case. The metaphors are brought to the surface instead as we see Neve’s new mother figure wake her out of a screaming fit by slapping her out of desperation. The only true heinous act we see her commit out of frustration and then we are supposed to take satisfaction in her inevitable comeuppance. Spiraling down into the final act misses the delivery of a well deserved revelation to all the questions waiting to be answered and delivers another plate of shock value to no avail.
Newcomer Maria Missy Keating gives the part of Neve everything that is required and hypnotically adds psychological credibility in moments of silence using only her eyes. I believe she has a bright future in acting as long as she can get scripts worthy of her talent. The dark tone that lurks consistently throughout this picture would remain substantial if not for the cliches in the narrative that overshadow the competent direction. There are supporting characters that are built up to only disappear before the final act with not even a mention of their purpose or whereabouts. This would make it appear that ideas were underdeveloped or completely edited out of the final product. There is a point that de Van wants to get across and clearly wants you to be unnerved by the violence on display which is tragic and lingers on screen. I find that to be a reasonable approach to expressing a substantial agenda as opposed to using glamorized and joyous violence that we’ve all become desensitized to it. With that being said, I feel that in order to relate to the characters being victimized the characters and story have to come first. The intentions and ideas were noble and can easily be found, how unfortunate they are sacrificed to a poorly executed conclusion.