DVD Review: Dark Mirror / Cert: 15 / Director: Pablo Proenza / Screenplay: Pablo Proenza, Matthew Reynolds / Starring: Lisa Vidal, Joshua Pelegrin, David Chisum / Release Date: September 3rd
In this low-key spooker, Jim (David Chisum) is intent on relocating his wife Debbie (Lisa Vidal) and son Ian (Joshua Pelegrin) to sunny Southern California, but Debbie is unimpressed by the real estate on offer until they happen upon a house with unusually elaborate windows (“specially imported from China”) and a distinguished pedigree, in that it once belonged to a famous artist. She has to have it. Bad mistake. No sooner have they settled in than Debbie, a keen photographer, takes a self-portrait in the bathroom mirror and is thrown backwards by an eerie flash. Woops, wouldn't you know it, she's only gone and roused an evil spirit that has been trapped in the house's maze of glass. The spirit enters her camera, and over the coming days and weeks, she begins to realize that anyone she photographs disappears, with signs of having made a violent exit from this world.
A camera of death – alright, yes, it's the sort of notion that gives horror movies a bad name, but director Pablo Proenza makes a surprisingly good fist of it. His script, co-written with Matthew Reynolds, keeps various plot threads nicely on the boil – a lurking, hooded figure on the house perimeter, the backstory concerning the artist, who's gone mysteriously missing and is believed to have murdered his wife, a growing sense that those pretty Chinese windows are distorting the world that Debbie sees and feeding her lies – so there's no way of knowing how all the pieces fit other than by watching until the end. Proenza's helped by a cast which is unstarry but very watchable. Vidal delivers an impressively anguished performance as Debbie, and it's refreshing that the lead is a mature, womanly character, with cares and responsibilities, rather than some vapid co-ed. David Farkas catches the eye as a leering heel who refuses Debbie work but talks within earshot about how much he would like to have sex with her, and Christine Lakin twinkles as the narcissistically strutting, bikini-clad blonde next door.
This is a good-looking movie, too, thanks to cinematographer Armando Salas, who bathes everything in the magnolia glow of a Dulux commercial. It feels like it could have done with being opened out a bit, though. The Keifer Sutherland vehicle, Mirrors, which was made around the same time, gets to play with a similar vitreous horror theme on a much larger scale. For that reason, it's tempting to dismiss Dark Mirror as an also-ran. But it's a well-crafted piece of work with some subtle scares, a range of lively and committed performances and an intriguingly dream-like ambience.
Special Features: None