If the past decade in film has taught us anything, it would be that low budget is not necessarily associated with low impact. Christopher Houghton’s debut feature, Touch, is a leering and haunting production that certainly leaves a profound impact, and a bitter one at that.
We shadow jaded and elusive Dawn (Leeanna Walsman) who flees metropolitan Adelaide with her aloof, graceful daughter Steph (Onor Nottle) following an inexplicable and violent assault on an older man. What follows is a desperate bid to shy away from all human contact, as Dawn seeks to protect her daughter at all costs. Checking in to a secluded motel, Dawn crosses paths with a brash cop with a heavy hand (Greg Hatton), who instigates some fairly uncomfortable and rash sex. All the while Dawn is pursued by a man with unclear intentions (Matt Day), whose eventual arrival is an unexpected but poignant reveal.
Houghton has crafted some thoroughly morose characters who collectively have few positive qualities or ambitions between them, and yet it was difficult not to be drawn into their anguish. It’s something akin to the final scenes of Silent Hill, where the characters wander blissfully around in a ghostly, and ethereal alternate world. We rarely see other people in this isolated town, adding to the overall melancholy. Nottle has a ghostly majestic screen presence that does well to carry the plot throughout the film.
The scenery is eerily beautiful and the perfect accompaniment to the story. Winding, foggy highways and damp forests provided an appropriate mood.
The pace at times was too slow, with some scenes more relevant to character backstory rather than plot. Shaving off twenty or so minutes could have delivered a more punchy rhythm that would have better carried the overall tension and strain.
Houghton has shaped a telling and memorable tale of love, loss, and the psychosis of grief, that will certainly leave you with questions, and just a hint of sorrow.
Reviewed by Nathan Giaccio
Rating out of 10: 7