Former Concordia film student Karl R. Hearne has released his first feature length film. Entitled Touched, the film is a haunting drama about a reclusive man who believes one of the tenants in the apartment building he owns has disappeared under suspicious circumstances. It is a film that relies entirely on the mood created and the believability or performance by its lead actor. While heavyhanded at times both are done well enough to make this compact film very watchable.
Leading a solitary existence, building owner Gabriel (Hugh Thompson – Sea of Love, Maximum Risk) is the type of guy that most people don’t even notice. He sticks to his routine which includes wearing pretty much the same clothes ever day, fixing what needs to be fixed in the building he inherited and traveling to get a loaf of brown bread every Friday. Life is just going along day after day being the same until something strange happens in apartment 7.
This is where a young woman named Caitlyn lives. While cleaning the hallway one day, Gabriel notices a smell coming from the apartment. He goes in and finds it full of garbage with no sign of the tenant. Something about it and the room won’t let Gabriel just move on, so he begins to dig into Caitlyn’s life. He goes to her school and then her father’s (John Maclaren – Capote, Race) house. He learns a little bit about the twentysomthing’s life, but nothing that explains her sudden disappearance. Even reporting it to a police detective (Alain Goulem – Deadfall, Brooklyn) does not bring about much action.
At the same time he starts digging into the mystery, Gabriel begins to see a young girl of nine-years-old in the apartment. They begin to have tea parties together. The young girl, who is chained to the wall, doesn’t talk much, but seems to be a younger version of Caitlyn. As they say, the mystery thickens as does Garbriel’s obsession with it.
This was a long coming passion project for the Montreal native Hearne, who wrote, directed and produced Touched. He did everything for a couple of hundred thousand dollars. The finished product demonstrates that desire can certainly make up for a lack of funds when it comes to making a movie. Something that maybe the director/producers of the hundred million dollar tentpole comic book/action films would do well to remember, but I digress. The film moves along rather slowly lending the whole otherworldly or ghost aspect to the story. Despite the creeping along pace there are plenty of emotionally charged moments.
Despite the fact that the story is one we have seen many times before in which the ghost of a dead young person comes back to connect with an adult to help solve their own murder. Hearne takes a typical plot and makes it atypical. That originality and the beautiful way it is shot results in a film that is something that rises leaps and bounds beyond its tight budget.