Director: Marina de Van
Writer: Marina de Van
Stars: Missy Keating, Marcella Plunkett, Padraic Delaney
Ireland doesn’t perhaps have the highest profile film industry in the world at the moment, but over recent years there have been a number of small scale horror productions emerging from the country – in fact there have been 36 horror films made since the beginning of 2014, a respectable number given the total number of Irish productions over the same period is at around 200 (and that includes international co-productions such as The Lobster and Queen and Country). Understandably given the socio-geographical make up of the country, they tend towards the agrarian and the rural, eschewing the urban settings more common in UK genre releases; and it’s not too much of a stretch to see them as being behoven to mysticism and poetry rather than aspiring towards that English goal of realism.
Dark Touch (2013) is a case in point. It’s a kind of ghost story which isn’t really a ghost story, a poltergeist movie with elements of Carrie thrown in for good luck. Missy Keating plays Niamh, a young girl who has developes a telekinetic ablity with which she kills her abusive parents (and, accidentally, her baby brother). She’s taken in by kindly family friends Nat (Marcella Plunkett) and Lucas (Padraic Delaney). But, what with being relentlessly teased at school and with her own damaged character, it’s only a matter of time until she lets loose her destructive powers again.
It’s a funny film, not remotely scary but strangely affecting. The sequences with the children are particularly effective: Niamh being forced to attend a horrible birthday party by well-meaning (i.e. drippy) social worker Charlotte Flyvholm; her schoolmates sleepwalking to school during the night. It’s decently directed by Marina de Van (who made the acclaimed In My Skin (2002) and Italo-French Don’t Look Back in 2009), despite the inclusion of some rather unwarranted gore. But the desire to keep things murky leads to a confused narrative, with Niamh herself remaining an intangible figure and the leaving the other characters with vaguely hinted at motivations which are never fleshed out.