DIRECTOR Marina de Van WRITER Marina de Van STARS Missy Keating; Marcella Plunkett; Padraic Delaney DVD 13 October
If anything should emerge from this odd Irish/Swedish co-production it’s a future career for young Missy Keating, excellent as the eleven-year-old Niamh who emerges as the only survivor of an event that has killed her parents and baby brother within their country home. The police are convinced it’s the work of a gang; Niamh insists that the house itself attacked them. Taken in by family friends, she retreats into herself, and during moments of psychological stress paranormal activity happens around her; lights flicker, furniture moves, and Niamh’s foster mother falls ill, hearing persistent screams and ringing in her ears.
A fine set-up then, drawing some obvious comparisons with Carrie, and while there is a good film tucked away here it’s hidden under endless long takes of motionless rooms and meaningless conversations that do little to serve the plot. It’s obvious that director Marina de Van is going for a certain mood, an ongoing feeling of mystery, and that’s to be applauded, but all style and no substance very rarely works. This is frustrating, because there are some effective moments — the opening murders are very well done, and a scene in a children’s playground is strange and disturbing — but they are few and far between, and it’s a chore to reach a conclusion that feels out of place, almost tacked on from a different film. As the film progresses there’s a dark subtext that touches on child abuse that is handled subtly and (thankfully) without exploitation, but Dark Touch can’t decide if it wants to be a drama or a horror film, and as such emerges as neither. Keating holds the film together, but the adult roles are sketched in. Well shot and taking advantage of the bleak Irish landscape, there are no real problems, but you’ll wish de Van had chosen her genre and stuck with it; a more coherent and powerful story could have been told.