Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dark Mirror (2009)

There has always been something inherently freaky about mirrors, windows or other reflective surfaces. Just who looks back at us as we look into them? What they reflect looks like reality, but what if it wasn’t? What if they reflected something more sinister? And what about all the myths and legends that believe evil spirits can be trapped in windows and mirrors?

The new film Dark Mirror seeks to address these questions, but is it another dud like Mirrors was or does it have something new, interesting and scary to say?

A family of three, mother Deborah (Lisa Vidal), father Jim (David Chisum) and son Ian (Joshua Pelegrin) move to L.A. from Seattle after Deb is entranced by a house with beautiful glass pane windows. As the family settles in, Deb attempts to resume her career as a photographer while simultaneously taking care of her son as Jim is usually working late. After having some strange experiences with the mirrors and windows in the house, she talks to her chatty neighbor, who tells her a famous artist and his family used to reside there until they mysteriously disappeared. Her mother also visits and tells Deb that in Feng Shui window panes are used to trap evil spirits and stop them from harming anyone.

Yet, as Deb continues to experience strange occurrences and explores the dark history of the house, she becomes convinced that something evil resides in the mirrors and windows. When people she has photographed start dying, she is convinced that the evil spirit has infiltrated her camera lens and is killing people…or is she just going crazy?

Dark Mirror is a film that is best described as being horror movie lite. It lacks the gut punch most serious horror fans seek, but its story is interesting enough to entertain the casual thrill-seeker.

Though the film’s story is intriguing, I found that overall the film is a bit lacking and comes across as just a slightly better-than-average, thriller (and a tame one at that). Think of it as horror film that you could watch with your own mother (hey, with Mother’s Day coming up that may not be  such a bad thing!).

While the flick was a solid effort from director/co-writer Pablo Proenza, the story could have used a bit more OOMPH! to hold my interest. This thriller probably won’t tickle the fancy of serious horror fans, though more casual viewers will easily enjoy it.

I thought the story, written by Proenza and Matthew Reynolds, was decent, but there were certain scenes that lacked cohesiveness and the pacing of the film as a whole was a tad slow. For example, I thought it was a bit too convenient the way Deb found out about evil spirits being trapped in mirrors and windows. And the concept behind it is so intriguing I would have liked to see a little more focus on the “evil hidden within glass” idea. I felt that the idea remained too undeveloped and could have been explored further. The film also moved at a slow pace and could have benefited with actually showing us what happened to the victims instead of cutting away after a scream. I also felt that the “scares” were overly generic and you could see them coming from a mile away.

However, I thoroughly enjoyed the part of the story where the mirrors/windows would reflect a different reality than the physical one that Deb and her family were in. Looking in the mirrors, Deb saw a doorway that shouldn’t be there, plus her husband being a little overly flirty with their neighbor. These were the most thrilling aspects of the story, along with a stunning finale, but still didn’t quite make up for the rest of the slightly underdone storyline.

The problems I had with the film certainly didn’t have anything to do with the actors, though. Lisa Vidal was great as Deb. She really kept the viewer guessing as to whether she was crazy or if something evil really was responsible. Her character really makes the audience appreciate working (or even single) mothers, who play the dual roles of raising a child as well as pursuing a career. The rest of the cast did a fantastic job as well, and I had absolutely no problem with believing each and every one of them.

Though Dark Mirror isn’t a real stand-out in the horror arena, it is still better than some of the remakes that Hollywood seems to be pumping out. Plus, with Mother’s Day right around the corner it seems like the perfect movie to sit down and watch with dear old Mom!

Available from Amazon!

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