When you start your film with an opening shot of the main character lying on a blood-soaked bed with their son, looking at a kitchen knife sticking out of their stomach, you’d better ensure that the remainder of the running time lives up to that opening montage. Unfortunately, Dark Mirror fails on nearly every level.
Photographer Debbie (Vidal), her husband Jim (Chisum) and their son Ian (Pelegrin) move into a new home in California, a welcome change from rainy Seattle. Debbie finds herself mesmerised by the property as soon as she walks through the front door, the sunlight creating prisms via the patterned glass windows which inspire the artist within her. The fact that a reclusive artist used to live in the property just fuels her interest even further. After they’ve moved in, Debbie decides to take a self portrait in the bathroom using the mirror. As the flashbulb goes off, it creates a strange effect which sends Debbie cartwheeling backwards into the bathtub.
Suddenly, Debbie starts seeing things in mirrors and through windows, even being able to hear conversations on the other side of glass panels. She also starts to see a strange figure lurking near her house, shrouded in a dark coat, who menaces her. On top of this, anyone who she happens to take a picture of starts to either disappear or turn up dead. The question is, is the camera haunted, or is it the ghost of the previous resident artist coming back from the dead, or is Debbie going insane and guilty of the murders herself?
What could be an interesting take on the old haunted house/ghost story tropes becomes a slow-burn drag. The director seems to have an eye that isn’t really on the ball, there are so many little nit-picky moments which you spot as a viewer that take you out of the film – a major one being when Debbie takes a picture of herself, yet in the photo her camera is pointed upwards! His propensity to rely on camera flash moments, and an overuse of lens flare that pushes even JJ Abrams’ reboot of Star Trek for winner of unnecessary overkill, is nothing short of maddening. There are plot contrivances which, with a stronger script, could have worked very well in the haunted house sub-genre, but here they feel jarring. The final twist is so obvious that you almost stifle a yawn when it’s eventually presented, and so we can only advise you to seek out a better film to fill your evening.
Hell, even the House on Haunted Hill remake was more fun to watch than this.
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