There is an old, aboriginal belief (as we know well from Zoolander), that having your photograph taken actually steals a little bit of your soul each time. Watching Dark Mirror felt like my soul was being wrenched out out of my eyeballs. The director Pablo Proenza decided to break with horror conventions by showing us all of the scares in this film in broad daylight or in one of the main characters’ camera flashes, which was a bold move and by all accounts a totally stupid one as it doesn’t work. Some rules are there to be broken, and some really, really are not.
The film is about photographer Debbie (Vidal) who is looking for a new house in Southern California with her husband who has landed a cushy job there. After seeing many houses and generally being a mardy cow about all of them, Debbie, her husband and irritating child find a house that used to belong to an artist who disappeared one day without a trace. Debbie loves the sultry and clearly artificial light that shines in through the windows in the house and decides that they will move in. One evening in the bathroom Debbie takes a photo into two opposing mirrors which reflect endlessly into each other (remember how cool those were when you were like, eight?) and unleashes a hooded stalker into this dimension (who resembles a chav hanging around Croydon). Also the camera Debbie used to take the mirror picture begins to kill everyone she photographs. Cue the ‘is she going mad or is the house haunted’ parts of the script and wait until her son decides to take a photo of himself and her husband forcing Debbie to figure out what is going on once and for all.
It is all pretty predictable stuff and not in the slightest bit frightening, well apart from the performances which are truly terrifying. It was also incredibly light (no pun intended) on ‘so bad it is funny’ moments with only one scene making me burst into laughter when Debbie and her mother (Ontiveros) between them somehow seem to know enough off hand information about the Japanese art of trapping spirits in glass they could write a thesis on it. Perhaps the most irritating though is Debbie’s son whose name I didn’t even bother remembering. At one moment nameless child gets locked in the bathroom and has the most ridiculous and over the top freak out in cinema history. To be fair, it looks like the evil chav monster is in there with him but he doesn’t know that. The ungrateful little brat is then released and has no kind word to say to his mother who later has to calm him down AGAIN when he thinks there is something scary in the chimney. (There once again isn’t).
Other irritating things about this film? The main character’s nails are far too polished and perfect to be a photographer. I don’t know why this bugged me but it did, and the dialogue is ridiculously clunky. There is also a scene (not to give away too much but really, why would you want to watch this film) where a character manages to crawl around the house for about an hour with an eight inch knife stuck into her abdomen. Ok, it’s Debbie. Sue me. (You see it in the very opening of this film anyway). This film manages to be lacklustre from start to finish with no explanation about why any of this is happening. If you want to have a really boring evening then by all means, buy this film. But don’t come crying to BFF afterwards saying we didn’t warn you…