The Mirror, 2014
Directed by Edward Boase
Starring Jemma Dallender, Joshua Dickinson and Nate Fallows
Three intrepid flatmates who purchase the supposedly haunted antique on eBay and set up round the clock cameras in the hopes of capturing evidence of something going bump in the night.
Good things tend to come in pairs. Dante’s Peak, Volcano. Deep Impact, Armageddon. Antz, A Bugs Life. And now we have Oculus and The Mirror to add to the list. While The Mirror shares a lot of the same story elements as Oculus, the two are widely different movies with differing results. But quite simply put, The Mirror is one of the best UK horror movies in quite some time.
Set over the course of a couple of weeks, The Mirror sees a group of film school students attempt to win a competition by buying a supposedly haunted mirror off eBay and setting up cameras around it to film its spooky results. But while it seems that a lot isn’t really happening, one of the crew starts to act very weird, and possibly even dangerously.
Where The Mirror succeeds as a found footage movie is that it sets up its premise of why the cameras are on all the time, why people are actively filming the events and why its been edited together. It doesn’t have to spend time justifying this because it’s explained in the opening few moments and it then allows its audience to settle into the movie. A lot of found footage movies just use the gimmick as an excuse for lazy filmmaking, but like Frankenstein’s Army or The Borderlands, The Mirror uses the genre to great effect.
This is seen particularly as the movie moves into its more terrifying stages with one of the team getting more and more possessed and dangerous. But rather than just throw you into its deep end, The Mirror paces itself very well to build the fear and tension, never playing its hand too early or late. It’s a very mature decision by director Edward Boase to not bow down to audience expectation of throwing blood and gore against the wall in the opening five minutes to gain their interest. Instead he works for your attention, and then delivers the goods when he’s ready to do so.
The found footage aspect isn’t anything really special and its nothing that you’ve never seen before, but there are some flashes of creativity from Boase as the film builds, especially in the scenes with the Go Pro camera. Like the zombie segment of last year’s V/H/S/2, The Mirror gives the best first person slasher terror that rings of classic genre moments like the opening scene of Halloween. While it would be a stretch to say its as genre defining as John Carpnter’s masterpiece, there is no denying that Boase has a keen eye for horror and knows when and when not to pull the trigger.
It’s unfair to compare The Mirror with the bigger budget and heavily promoted Oculus, but the two are almost on equal footing. The Mirror doesn’t push conventions and it plays with all of the overused tricks of the trade, but Boase’s direction and the marvellous performances from all three leads (Joshua Dickinson in particular) pushes The Mirror into a level above most UK produced horror movies. It may not be seen by many, but there will be those who track it down and appreciated once Boase becomes a big player in this industry.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.