Originally unleashed back in 2007, “Dark Mirror” is a low key psychodrama horror, which now makes a belated arrival on UK region 2 DVD via Arrow Films. The film was directed by Pablo Proenza, who worked as an editor on the Michael Moore documentary “Capitalism: A Love Story”, and stars in the lead “E.R.” actress Lisa Vidal, along with television actor David Chisum, Christine Lakin (who some may remember from way back when in the television series “Step by Step”) and Joshua Pelegrin.
Vidal plays Debbie, a woman who relocates from Seattle to Southern California with her husband Jim (David Chisum) and young son Ian (Joshua Pelegrin), moving into a house with mesmerising stained glass windows. A photographer looking for work, Debbie snaps herself looking in the bathroom mirror, with the window in the background, and experiences an oddly hallucinatory effect, after which she starts seeing strange visions of a hooded figure. Soon enough everyone she takes pictures of seems to die, and when she investigates the house she uncovers a sinister story about a painter who used to live there and whose family just happened to disappear.
It really must have been a slow day at the office when Arrow decided to release “Dark Mirror”, as in addition to its relative age, lack of star power and general obscurity, there’s really nothing special here at all to catch the attention or make it stand out. To be fair, there’s also nothing truly wrong with the film, Proenza’s direction being solid enough in workmanlike fashion, and the story itself is efficiently told, if lacking in imagination or ideas. However, it’s hard to stifle the yawns, as pretty much everything has been seen before, from the oddball neighbours (an exposition friendly creepy old Asian woman and an actress/model/singer with habit of dressing in not very much) through to the not particularly mysterious history of the house and a slasher subplot which never gels.
Unsurprisingly, the whole film boils down to question of whether poor Debbie is crazy or not, though sadly it’s really kind of hard to care, partly due to the fact that the obvious stabs at ambiguity are clumsy and don’t quite work as intended. Similarly, it doesn’t help that not much actually happens, with just a few jump scares and murders here and there and very little in the way of shocks, tension or surreal chills. Although there’s probably just about enough to prevent viewers from falling asleep during its mercifully short 82 minute running time, the film simply fails to get the pulse racing, and as a result comes across very much like a made for television effort.
This might all be a bit harsh, and genre addicts could arguably do worse than wasting time with “Dark Mirror”, as there’s certainly worse out there. Still, it’s hard to recommend a film this nondescript or devoid of thrills and originality, and it’s hard to imagine anyone remembering anything about it even half an hour after the final credits roll.
Pablo Proenza (director) / Matthew Reynolds, Pablo Proenza (screenplay)
CAST: Lisa Vidal … Deborah Martin
David Chisum … Jim Martin
Joshua Pelegrin … Ian Martin
Lupe Ontiveros … Grace
Christine Lakin … Tammy
David Farkas … Chad
John Newton … Brendan
Jim Storm … Frank