Debbie has recently moved to California with her husband Jim and son Ian, buying a house that she felt strangely drawn to. With the financial stability of Jim’s new job, she is free to start up her photography career again and begins by photographing the house and her neighbours. However, events get sinister when she starts to see alternate realities through her camera lens, a hooded figure begins stalking her from the shadows, and a series of killings commences with no link between the victims but Debbie herself.
Some films you go into really, really wanting to like. The trailer for Dark Mirror looked fantastic, the film’s core concept sounded interesting and it seems like it’s not a sequel/remake/reboot/reimagining/whatever. However, as is often the case when you allow yourself to be cautiously optimistic, Dark Mirror proves something of a disappointment.
It’s the pitfall of many a horror film with potential: once you’ve established the mythology behind whatever dark entity is stalking a film’s populace, there’s little else to do than have them die one by one in various violent ways. Giving credit where its due, the tale in question is a good few steps up from your typical ghost story, but the supplementary history of the house being owned by a mad artist feels kind of tacked on and doesn’t really have any bearing on the film’s plot.
The motif that what you see is not necessarily what’s there is implied throughout, but the intended ambiguity between whether events are driven by a supernatural force or merely Debbie’s declining sanity is unconvincing at best. Balancing this out is the idea that a photographer shows what they want you to see, with some key shots seen from such a perspective. One particularly memorable shot has Debbie take a photograph between two mirrors reflected in one another, the light from the camera flash jolting back and forth into infinity. Continuing the photography theme, some effective uses of lighting crop up, such as a POV shot with a lens flare or light reflected as though through a prism.
The supporting cast of a curtain-twitching old Chinese lady and an extrovert yoga-bendy neighbour add little to proceedings except as potential additions to the body count. As for Debbie and her family themselves, they simply aren’t interesting enough to hold your attention.
Overall Verdict: The fact that Dark Mirror was made five years ago but is only now receiving a DVD release should have been a bit of a giveaway as to its quality, but nevertheless it’s frustrating when an intriguing set up fails to live up to its potential.
Behind the Scenes
Reviewer: Andrew Marshall