Monday, October 13, 2014

30 Days of Nightmares #13: DARK TOUCH (2013)

The Story: 11-year-old Neve watched her abusive parents die in front of her... but what killed them?

Expectations: I knew nothing about this movie when I started watching it.  Sometimes that's the best way to experience a horror movie.

Reaction: The first twenty minutes or so of this film raise a lot of questions.  There are some obviously supernatural things happening, and also some natural horrors.  The main question is: Are the natural horrors (child abuse) causing the supernatural horrors (telekinesis?  demonic haunting?  or something else?), or is it the other way around?  The ambiguous nature of this vicious circle is the purpose--and the strength--of the film. 

Actress Missy Keating turns in a powerful performance as Neve, a young girl who is confused and supremely vulnerable at first, but who grows into power and understanding in a way that is subtly yet profoundly alarming.  It will be easy for viewers to compare the film to CARRIE, because this is also the story of an abused innocent's coming-of-rage... but there's more nuance here.  Carrie White's transformation from vulnerable innocent to rage monster happens all at once, when that bucket of blood is dropped on her head at the prom.  Neve's transformation happens gradually, giving it more dramatic weight.  And even though I knew more or less where the story was headed, or at least where I thought I wanted it to go... DARK TOUCH managed to be surprising and heartbreaking and terrifying.  Behind all the flashy effects of this supernatural horror story, there is a deeply haunting message about the effects of child abuse.  CARRIE is a supernatural revenge story, plain and simple.  DARK TOUCH goes further.

Most Nightmare-Worthy Moment: The other obvious comparison is VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED, because Neve is not the only "creepy kid" in the film.  At times, I think that weakens the narrative.  But there is one scene--at a little girl's birthday party--that makes the "normal" kids in this movie seem like the real monsters.  On the whole, the film is a reminder of just how horrific childhood can be.

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