DIRECTOR Pablo Proenza WRITER Pablo Proenza; Matthew Reynolds STARS Lisa Vidal; David Chisum; Joshua Pelegrin DVD 3 September
Pablo Proenza’s 2007 thriller, Dark Mirror, finally gets a release on these shores, but it’s difficult to see why Arrow Films have picked this up after five years on the shelf.
Photographer Deborah (Lisa Vidal) and her family move into a cheaper-than-it-should-be house (which is always a warning sign in horror) after a long search for a new property. In the bathroom she finds a mirror that offers odd reflections, which eventually proves to be a door to an alternative reality. Deborah also discovers weird things in the flash of her camera, which culminates in the deaths of people she takes pictures of, and she starts to formulate a connection with the strange presence behind the glass.
The film has its moments, most of which are made by Vidal who turns in a good performance, particularly in the final act when her mother, who may or may not just be a figment of her imagination, arrives for a visit, and there are a couple of good scares, but Proenza’s direction is flat. His static camerawork wastes much of the opportunity afforded by the mirror’s reflection and depth of field, that has been more successfully realised by the likes of Alexandre Aja’s Mirrors. Proenza is also keen to homage Polanski, and there are several nods to Repulsion, but this is a film that wants to be so much more than it actually is. A crucial plot point is revealed in the opening moments that is followed with a ‘three months earlier’ title, but the script isn’t clever enough to work anything else in.
It’s not all negatives. Decent lighting and some good effects add atmosphere, and a moment when Vidal wakes up tied to a chair will definitely grab your attention. The problem is we’ve seen this alterative universe scenario many times before, from Fulci to Craven, and done much better. So far this is Proenza’s only stab at the horror genre (he went on to edit Michael Moore’s documentary Capitalism: A Love Story), and while it’s far from the worst thing you’ll ever see, it’s instantly forgettable.