Starring Lisa Vidal, David Chisum, Joshua Pelegrin
Directed by Pablo Proenza
Distributed by Arrow Films
With a cushy new job under his belt, family man Jim Martin (Chisum) takes his wife, Debbie (Vidal), and son, Ian (Pelegrin), to relocate in sunny California. Having turned down fourteen houses already, stubborn Debbie immediately falls in love with the characteristic windows in their latest viewing — a rather inexplicably dingy looking bungalow — and opts for an immediate purchase.
Mesmerised by the play of light created by the glass, Debbie sets about trying to reinvigorate her waning career as a photographer. When she encounters a pair of mirrors placed opposite each other in the bathroom, Debbie makes the mistake of taking a flash photo, triggering a display of infinite light travel that just may have opened a doorway for something malevolent living within the Chinese-made, carefully arranged glasswork.
As eerie visions plague her constantly, Debbie finds herself fighting to keep hold of her mental faculties – especially when a foreboding hooded figure is seen following her and standing outside the new homestead. Not to mention the fact that everyone she takes a picture of is turning up murdered.
Dark Mirror has plenty going for it – an intriguingly spooky premise hints at some unseen force bent on the destruction of Debbie’s family, capable of distorting images viewed through the house’s windows in order to chip ever more savagely at the fracturing sanity of the struggling wife and mother, and the story initially unfolds at a steady, absorbing pace. Lead actress Lisa Vidal is consistently believable and easy to identify with, not to mention being a dab hand at the whole “losing her mind” thing central to the narrative. Unfortunately Chisum has little to do as the husband, absent for the majority of scenes and restricted to a generic everyman performance when called on by the script. The less said about the annoying, stilted Pelegrin, the better.
As the film progresses and the murders begin, Dark Mirror‘s wheels begin to come loose as director Proenza does everything he can to stop them falling off entirely. The kill scenes are mostly bloodless, confusingly edited, and plastered in extremely unconvincing digital lens flares straight from an Adobe After Effects beginner’s tutorial, and while the ghostly mythology sees slight expansion with a promisingly chilling back story, the script fails to capitalise on it and genre aficionados will see the ending coming a mile off. That’s not to say it isn’t well staged (the final scene has a pleasingly old-school supernatural vibe), but when the second half of Dark Mirror becomes such a predictable slog, settling into the pacing and visual construction of a Lifetime Special TV movie, the payoff doesn’t feel like entirely suitable reward for the trials of getting there.
In the end Dark Mirror is an admirable shot for first-time director Proenza, and fans of ghostly thrillers will certainly find something to like, but the lack of energy, creativity and real scares ensure it utterly fails to rise above the rest of the crop.
In terms of special features, Arrow Video’s DVD release of Dark Mirror offers up a disappointingly brief “Behind the Scenes” segment, running around 8 minutes, that offers little more than a vague EPK experience and certainly very little insight to the making of the film itself beyond a few pieces of on-set footage and a promising first couple of minutes that go into the genesis of the story. A trailer tacked onto the end rounds out the disc.
2 1/2 out of 5
1 out of 5