A perversely abused girl, Niamh, is repeatedly beaten and molested by her parents. She gets her revenge on them, then rescues and avenges other victims of abuse. Dark, destructive, paranormal powers are her weapon of choice. Her story plays out in a richly cinematic Irish countryside setting that provides a foreboding context for the horrific events that occur inside her home. How could a film that tells this story ever fail to be a winner?
To find out, watch “Dark Touch” (2013), a joint Irish-French-Swedish production that takes this promising premise and runs it straight into the peat bogs. Starting out strong, it loses altitude as its pace slows down. The story loses its horror edge as the film over-focuses on the adults around Niamh, who eat up run-time as they indulge in pious psychobabble about child abuse and generally flounder about trying to understand and control her. Meanwhile, Niamh becomes progressively less sympathetic as a character as she begins to control and use her paranormal abilities with increasingly reckless abandon. Finally, it all ends in a contrived way, in a final scene that seems to have been written for its utility as a horrific visual finale rather than as a logical and inevitable climax to Niamh’s story.