Dark Mirror – DVD Review
Deborah, a failed photographer and housewife along her husband and son move from Seattle to Los Angelese for husband Jim’s new job. They fall in love with a house that has cut glass windows and whose previous owner was an artist. Having met a lot of artists personally, I’m not sure if that’s the greatest selling point of a house, however the light inside is fantastic and Deborah starts taking pictures of the mirrors and windows in an attempt to get a unique arty shot for her portfolio.
It isn’t long before strange things start to happen and the people who she’s taken photographs of start to dissapear under mysterious circumstances. If that wasn’t worrying enough, Deborah becomes convinced she’s being followed by a strange hooded stalker.
After moving into a strange old house with her husband and son, Deborah (Lisa Vidal) discovers a mysterious mirror that does more than just cast a reflection. A door to an alternate reality, the mirror awakens a dark side in Deborah that she can’t control. Co-starring David Chisum, Christine Lakin, Joshua Pelegrin and Lupe Ontiveros, this psychological thriller is directed and co-written by Pablo Proenza.
Dark Mirror defies the conventions of the traditional haunted house ghost story by revealing it’s horrors in the full glare of a stream of sunshine or a camera flash rather than the night-time darkness of a spooky cellar. Lisa Vidal (E.R.) stars as Debbie, a woman who is haunted by a hidden presence or perhaps the inner-workings of her increasingly unstable mind.
With a slow, quiet build-up Dark Mirror is a nicely ambiguous and compelling ghost story full of twists and turns.
Dark Mirror holds it’s mythology in the ancient art of Feng Shui. Not the most terrifying starting points for a horror film you might say, and you’d be right. It’s not the scariest film I’ve ever seen, there are no “jump moments” but there are points that are genuinely creepy. A lot of mythology is out there that says photography and mirrors capture souls, and this film dips it’s toe into this idea. It also losely explores how we see ourselves, Deborah sees herself as the victim, however as she grows more suspicious of her camera’s power, she uses it as a weapon to further her own self interest.
The sucess of the story camed down to the performance given by Lisa Vidal as lead character Deborah. Her portrayal of terrified house wife Deborah carries the film and it’s not often that a lead role is given to women above the age of 30 proving that viewers don’t recoil in disgust at the prospect of a protaganist that’s also a mother. Brilliant performances also came from Lupe Ontiveros as Deborah’s mother and Christine Lakin who plays her wannabe actress neighbour.
There’s a lot of thought in the cinematography in terms of angles and reflections which is integral to the story, however I may have spotted a goof where a camera somehow manages to take a picture of itself in a mirror even though it’s lens is pointing at the ceiling. The ending is a little open ended and doesn’t go to much effort to explain the events happening during the film. Wether this is intentional or not is unclear but it does leave you wondering what on earth it was all about and slightly dissapointed. The Extras on the DVD contain a trailer, behind the scenes video and commentary. The behind the scenes video does explain that they had to cut scenes out of the film because last minute funding fell through. Presumably it was this lack of a conclusive story that made the ending so confusing, which is a shame.
Ultimately, Dark Mirror is a strong indie horror that’s not too scary yet creepy enough to make you think. Featuring some strong performances and utilising a limited space and setting to great effect. A unique premise sets the film apart from others in it’s genre however it could have benefited from a more definate ending. It won’t put me off mirrors, or photography but it might put me off buying a house that an artist used to live in.
Dark Mirror is available to buy on DVD from 3rd September 2012
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