Behind the reflection is what you fear most
Writers: Matthew Reynolds, Pablo Proenza
Director: Pablo Proenza
Dark Mirror begins with a device I’m finding increasingly irritating – the flash forward to an action scene. Here it’s a woman waking from a dream to find a knife in her side.
Slip back to the start of the story and we have a couple and their young son moving into a new house. Although they don’t know it the house has (of course) a History – a painter and his wife used to live their until one day they just disappeared. The main character Deborah (Lisa Vidal) is a photographer and when she takes photographs of a mirror, strange things start to happen. In particular, people she takes picture of just disappear… There’s also a stranger stalking the house and reference to feng shui and the power of crystals over spirits. Is the mirror cursed, is the house haunted or is Deborah going crazy and imagining it all?
If that sounds like a bit of a mess then I’m afraid it is. Dark Mirror takes some well worn themes and adds some interesting new twists – in particular the use of photography. Unfortunately it’s not clear for a long time how they all hang together. Strange things are happening but there’s no feeling of menace, no atmosphere. There’s a story there, but we don’t know what the story is. A degree of ambiguity is a good thing, but Dark Mirror crosses the line between conundrum and chaos.
There are undoubtedly some good bits, especially the use of light, mirrors and reflections. But they’re just bits. Nothing’s really expanded on in any depth as the story jumps around different ideas. It definitely looks great, but that’s not enough. A strong central performance might have held it all together, but unfortunately Vidal isn’t convincing in her portrayal of a woman on the edge of a breakdown.
It does eventually all come together in a way that is unsurprising but satisfying, and the last fifteen minutes are actually pretty interesting and ambiguous in a good way. But that’s too little too late.
There are lots of things to like in Dark Mirror and it could have been great, but it fails to gel. In many ways it reminds me of The Babadook (2014) and shares many of the same flaws.