Dark Mirror (2012)

Originally released in the United States in 2007 it has somehow taken 5 years for Dark Mirror to swim across to Britain. And was it worth it? Surprisingly… yes.

Dark Mirror is an interesting, intriguing and bizarre little horror film that will keep you guessing until the end (and maybe even afterwards). It suffers from some genre clichés and is more than a little confusing, but thanks to a compelling central performance and some effective moments of weirdness, Dark Mirror is definitely worth a watch.

Aspiring photographer and housewife Deborah Martin (Lisa Vidal) is moving from Seattle and becomes instantly besotted with the first house she looks around. With little thought, she agrees to purchase the house and moves in with husband Jim (David Chisum) and their son Ian (Joshua Pelegrin).

The house has a history (when don’t they?) and previously belonged to an artist and his wife, who mysteriously both went missing. Why? Suspicion lies upon the husband murdering the wife, but no one truly knows.

Everything is going well – weird neighbours, surprise surprise – until Deborah takes a photo of herself in a mirror, which produces a photograph of ANOTHER ROOM instead of her reflection. Realizing the image is of her bathroom, she takes a photo in that mirror too… and that’s when things start going a little wrong.

Deborah starts seeing a mysterious figure in a raincoat and her camera flashes at random, taking photos at random. When the subjects of these photographs start going missing, she realizes there might be link between the mirrors, her camera and whatever happened to the previous tenants of their new home…

The plot is twisting and always intriguing. Unfortunately it suffers from a few horror tropes; couple moves into new home with a (possibly) bloody history, wife starts seeing things, husband doesn’t believe her etc… etc… but despite this the story moves along at a decent pace.

For first time director / writer Pablo Proenza this is an impressive feature debut, providing a subtle Polanski-esque intrigue that keeps the audience constantly invested in the story. It is not a bloody or vicious film but a well directed horror that feels more like a psychological horror instead of a ghost / haunted house flick.

Lisa Vidal is outstanding throughout, providing a female lead that is both strong-willed and fragile. It holds the film together, especially towards the end when everything goes a bit crazy.

The crazy isn’t overblown like 1408 but subtle and unsettling. It isn’t, however, scary in any way. There may be one or two jump scares, but the majority of the film is entire bereft of actual horror. Perhaps intentional, the focus is more on Deborah’s descent from sane budding photographer to nerve-wrecked home-bound nutbag. As I said before – more psychological horror than ghost-house horror.

There are moments in Dark Mirror that are superb but there are also moments that are both confusing and frustrating. If you don’t try and unravel the mythos behind Dark Mirror’s plot then you will enjoy it much more.

Dark Mirror is neither frightening nor profound, but you should just accept the strangeness and enjoy the ride. It’s certainly an enjoyable one.

Rating: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

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