Dark Mirror, 2007.
Directed by Pablo Proenza.
Starring Lisa Vidal, David Chisum and Joshua Pelegrin.
A photographer moves her family into a strange old house, where she discovers an alternate reality reflected in the glass.
Dark Mirror is a 2007 supernatural thriller from writer/director Pablo Proenza who, according to IMDB, has done very little else: a short movie called ViDi in 1997 and a TV show called School Spirits. He was the editor of Capitalism: A Love Story, which is cool I guess.
Anyway, Dark Mirror is about the worst parents in the world, Deborah and Jim, played by Lisa Vidal (Southland, The Event) and David Chisum (One Life to Live) respectively. They have a son called Ian but he’s pretty much inconsequential to the plot. Anyway, in between neglecting (and occasionally freaking out) their son, Jim works on his super important and detailed “computer project” at “work”, while Deborah, a photographer, looks for work and investigates the spooky goings on at their new home in L.A.
Their new house seems to possess a dark past, with strange things appearing in the mirrors and widows. Deborah also discovers that anyone she takes a picture of gets bumped off by a dark figure in a raincoat. Who is this dark figure? A stalker? The famous painter who previously owned the house? Or a member of her family?
Yeah, the plot sucks. Writers Proenza and Matthew Reynolds probably thought they were making a really poetic, artistic piece with its dark complex mystery, when really it just recycles and rips off (or as I’m sure they put it, “lovingly homages”) much better films like Psycho, The Shining and Angel Heart.
But using old ideas is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as you disguise it with decent writing or something innovative. Instead, the script is populated with under-written, paper thin characters, whom the audience aren’t given enough time or reasons to care about, so we can’t empathise or feel anything for them when the shit hits the fan in the last ten minutes. And hey, underwritten characters are fine in slasher movies, where the focus is on inventive kills and the monster / threat itself, but both the threat and the kills in this movie are terribly dull: the hooded figure basically looks like the guy from I Know What You Did Last Summer.
The actors are fine, but the script gives them little to work with and inept direction brings out some awful performances. It’s also sickeningly pandering, like the attractive neighbour who sunbathes in a bikini and six inch stilettos in her front lawn (because that’s what real women do) or a scene where Deborah serves her husband a candle-lit dinner wearing nothing but an apron. Maybe this film was just an excuse for Proenza to film attractive women wearing next to nothing without just making a porno.
It also looks awful. There’s an annoying abundance of lens flares and lighting effects that become very grating, as well as a really obvious green-screen effect so they could film Vidal looking into a camera while the mirror behind her has that infinity mirror, recursive reflection effect. The few monster effects aren’t bad.
There’s one or two interesting moments: Lisa looks out of a window and sees her husband and neighbour laughing and flirting, but the camera cuts to the pair to show that they’re having a dull conversation, which suggests that either the house is distorting what she sees or that it’s all happening in her head, but it doesn’t really develop or go anywhere.
It just felt antiquated. If you told me Dark Mirror was made in the 90s, I wouldn’t have been surprised. But the fact is, it’s a typically dumb, dull horror movie, with only the occasional moments so stupid and nonsensical and so cut off from what real people in reality would do, you end up laughing at the film. It’s not even bad enough to be enjoyable bad.
Dark Mirror is dull, pandering, pretentious and is only mildly scary or thrilling (the film relies too much on jump scares) with unlikeable characters. Don’t waste your time or money.
Flickering Myth Rating - Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★
Luke Graham is a writer and graduate. If you enjoyed this review, follow him @LukeWGraham and check out his blog here.