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Touch (Christopher Houghton, 2015) aka Dawn; wr. Christopher Houghton, prod. Julie Byrne, Kristian Moliere, Jennifer Jones, Triptych Pictures; Leeanna Walsman, Matt Day, Greg Hatton; thriller; SFF 6 June

After some film festival screenings last year, Australian film Touch is finally obtaining a limited release in various capital cities and deserves a larger audience than it will probably attract. Writer-director Christopher Houghton’s film is a well made and rather creepy drama that withholds a good deal of information from the audience yet succeeds in its portrayal of a woman at the end of her tether.
Dawn (Leeanna Walsman) is first seen assaulting a man who, it seems, was trying to help her. Clearly unstable, she drives off into the South Australian hinterland with her young daughter, Steph (newcomer Onor Nottle) in tow. From the start it’s pretty clear that something’s not right. It seems fair to make the assumption that Dawn is attempting to escape from domestic violence, and this theory is confirmed by the fact a man named John (Matt Day) is on her trail and seems able to access credit card details to establish her whereabouts.
After a confrontation with a dodgy-looking cop, Dawn and Steph check into a seedy motel whose manager, Carl (Shane Connor), wins the Norman Bates award for nastiness and voyeurism. In an adjacent bar, Dawn becomes reacquainted with the cop, Nick (Greg Hatton), who can barely conceal his lustfulness. Before long, Dawn and Nick are involved in some destructive sexual activity, with Dawn on the alert in case Steph walks in on them.
Houghton is skilful at establishing a gradually increasing feeling of unease as elements in this story seem not to add up — and, yes, there’s a twist to the tale. It’s a bleak little story, but well made, with Walsman, especially, providing many layers and shades to Dawn’s often mysterious character. On a technical level the film is also impressive given that it was presumably made on a tiny budget. It’s worth seeking out. David Stratton, The Australian.

Garry Gillard | New: 26 May, 2015 | Now: 29 June, 2020