If you thought Marina De Van’s horror movie Dark Touch was cliché and slightly overdone already, you’d be doing the film a huge disservice. I admit I was a little concerned because I’m not a fan of movies where the kids are the aggressors or the monsters. I find them unconvincing. They don’t scare me. As a mother, I’m more apt to tell them to get their butts to bed and stop messing around.
Niamh (pronounced and Anglicized as Neve) is not your average kid in a scary movie. You’d like to think so, but the beauty of the film is you start out believing one thing, and end up shocked, awed, and unsure about whether you should feel bothered or satisfied at the end. Nothing is really as it seems, and though plenty of horror movies can make that claim, there aren’t many that actually can prove it. Dark Touch definitely shows and proves.
The cinematography was quite helpful in building a sense of doom and gloom. Add to that the fact that they are in a small town surrounded by fields and woods, and you’ve got a great location for supernatural occurrences. There were lots of blacks and grey tones; colors that reflected the unhappiness in Neve’s life. It was almost as though no sun would ever shine on the place. De Van has a way of playing with darkness and shadows that make you expect monsters that aren’t really there.
Neve (Missy Keating) is a little girl who has been exploited and used, and isn’t really believed. She must be the crazy one with her occasional outbursts and introverted nature. Her parents seem intelligent and cultured, but appearances can be quite deceiving. They are the embodiment of wickedness wrapped in nice, well-dressed bodies, proving that evil doesn’t always need to come in grotesque shapes and facades.
Despite efforts by Neve to run away, she’s stuck with her evil parents who would stop at nothing to misrepresent her. One fateful night, Neve’s parents and little brother are killed mysteriously by unexplained phenomena appearing to be either poltergeists or a possessed house. This is where you first realize your sensibilities will not be spared… This bloody massacre happens less than 20 minutes into the film. Nothing could have prepared me for the graphic and hateful way in which Neve’s parents were killed. As you watch the film and get to know more about them, you understand why, however. Still, the scene was like out of Saw or Hostel, but not distasteful or cheesy. The neighbors, Nat (Marcella Plunkett) and Lucas (Padraic Delaney), volunteer to take Neve in while a suitable home is found for her. They figure she’ll get along well with their two kids, Ryan and Lucy. She doesn’t really interact with them, but she does make friends with two children who were abused by their dastardly mother. The film does show the abuse as it takes place, so please be warned if that is a trigger for you.
Nat and Lucas seem like good people. They were willing to help Neve—they knew her and her parents—and Nat seems to share some sort of energy with Neve. As Neve discovers one of their personal tragedies, we see their relationship take on a different tone and certain secrets and tragedies come to light. Keating is fabulous in her roles and she’s like the 2013 Natalie Portman. She can cry on demand and really projected a tortured sense of grief.
By the end of the movie, most, if not all, of your conceptions will be turned upside down. Dark Touch excels in using suspense in the right areas, dread in others, with some good scares. These aren’t the scares I mentioned in my Insidious 2 movie review. This is a fear coming from confronting some very dark facts and truths; seeing Neve really go in some really dark places without batting an eyelash.
Seeing children doing evil things and relishing it is hard to watch. It challenges our idea of innocence. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor after one particularly super disconcerting scene. Yet, you can’t help but feel a little okay with it once you see why it’s happening. Dark Touch is awesomely candid horror, unafraid to expose the uglier recesses of humanity, both within adults and children. It is definitely a must-see for horror fans dying for something with more substance than ghouls and ghosts. The monsters here are human and they’re very real.
DARK TOUCH opens in select theaters and will be available to watch on Cable VOD, SundanceNOW and other digital outlets (iTunes, Amazon Streaming, PS3 Playstation Unlimited, XBOX Zune, Google PLAY and YouTube) starting September 27th.