Dark Touch review: Carrie on and on

Dark Touch green light Missy Keating

Elegantly atmospheric indie horror drama plumbs typically unseen depths of children’s coping mechanisms in the face of terrible real-life experience.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

A young girl, Niamh (amazing and heartbreaking Missy Keating), is the only survivor of a violent attack on her family home in the remote Irish countryside, which kills her parents and her infant brother. The cops figure it to be the work of vandals, Niamh (pronounced “Neve”) insists it was the house itself… but we saw what happened, and damned if it didn’t look like some sort of telekinetic storm that the girl herself manifested. But why? We know, from our history with horror flicks, that this sort of event doesn’t happen out of the blue but as a reaction to something far worse. And we know, from what we see of Niamh, as she is fostered by nearby family friends, that she is not a bad seed. She quite kind, in fact, and feels very deeply. And there’s the ringing in the ears of her new foster mother, which would seem to be Niamh’s psychic screaming. What the hell is going on? French filmmaker Marina de Van (In My Skin) has crafted a story that is far more elegantly atmospheric than we expect from the genre: this neither looks nor feels like any horror movie you’ve seen before, its quiet foggy grayness as far from the clichéd green fields of Ireland the movies typically give us as its muted mix of supernaturally tinged superstition and small-town gossip is from the over-the-top paranormal fireworks of the genre. De Van plays with so many horror tropes to stunning, and indeed moving, affect, as with the duo of strange-creepy children who seem to be haunting Niamh from afar as she tries to settle into her new life: they are nothing like what what other similar films have trained us to expect. Dark Touch mines its most memorable horrors not from anything fantastical but from terrible realities that far too many real children cope with on a daily basis.

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