dark mirror | pablo proenza | matthew reynolds | lisa vidal | david chisum | joshua pelegrin | ghost | haunted house | haunted | thriller | united states | lupe ontiveros | christine lakin | david farkas | john newton | jim storm | tucker smallwood | jay knowlton
Film: Dark Mirror
Director: Pablo Proenza
Writer: Pablo Proenza and Matthew Reynolds
Starring: Lisa Vidal, David Chisum and Joshua Pelegrin
This was a film that I’m not entirely sure how I got turned on to. It has been on my Netflix for years and it finally came up to be sent to me in the mail. It is an IFC film, so I was intrigued by that. I do like to come into films blind, so there’s that. The synopsis is a photographer moves her family in a strange old house, where she discovers an alternate reality reflected in the glass…a dark reality that is closing in on her.
We start this off with Deborah Martin (Lisa Vidal) waking up in bed next to son Ian (Joshua Pelegrin). There is blood on the boy as well on herself and we see that she has a knife sticking out of her side. It then shifts back into the past to show us what got us here.
The film informs us this all starts 3 months prior. Deborah and her husband Jim (David Chisum) are trying to find a house to buy. Deborah is being very picky. They arrive at the next one and through some comments; we learn that she is a photographer who hasn’t found her groove to get back working since Ian was born. She has been a stay at home mom this whole time and she doesn’t seem to be all that happy about it. Inside the house, Ian starts to tear away paper from a window and he’s scolded for it. This draws Deborah’s attention and she tears the rest of it away to pretty intricate windows that are refracting the light in a beautiful way. She wants this house even though it is a bit overpriced for the size.
They move in and start their new lives. The realtor told them that a painter used to live there. There seems to be more to the story than she knows and Deborah looks into it. Strange things happen though when she takes a picture in the mirror of one bathroom. There’s a mirror in front and behind her which causes the flash to reflect back and forth. It does something odd though. It takes a picture of a different bathroom as if reflected from that mirror. It takes a dark turn when anyone Deborah takes a picture of goes missing. Her mother, Grace (Lupe Ontiveros), comes to help her. Deborah gets a bit stir crazy as she tries to figure out if there’s something supernatural in her house. She also becomes suspicious of her husband’s work schedule and of the young actress Tammy (Christine Lakin) next door.
Now I wanted to go a little bit vaguer here with my recap as there’s not actually a lot to the story. I think now after watching it, one of the things that sucked me in to give it a chance is the idea of mirrors and possible other worlds behind them. That is a terrifying concept to me, as seeing someone behind me or my reflection move independently is scary. The film actually introduces there’s a door that only appears in the mirror. This is something I thought was interesting, but it doesn’t go anywhere unfortunately. I did want that to be explored more.
We also get an interesting idea here that the windows of the house can hold in spirits. They are three dimensional and I liked the introduction of this lore here. It is thought that it can either hold in or keep out spirits as they would get trapped. I really like to see mythology like this, especially since it is something I’ve never heard about before.
The major aspect of the story is whether or not there’s an evil spirit here or is Deborah losing her mind. I like this when it is done correctly, but it is something that used quite a bit. I like that she is a housewife that has been home for an extended time and she is struggling with it. It is believable and could cause her to descend into madness. We are also introduced that there’s an aspect that the painter had things happen after they were painted. This is transferred to Deborah’s camera, or is it? I won’t spoil what happens here, but I did like what they decided to do.
From here I should move to the pacing of the film, which I have to say falls a bit flat. I think that the movie is boring unfortunately. There is some back-story and mythology to play with, but the film kind of just meanders. It decides to go the route where Deborah blacks out and doesn’t remember long stretches. We are given flashes of what happened, but I think that is a misstep of where they should have actually gone with this. I do like what is revealed at the end, it is a bit ambiguous, but they didn’t completely go the way where it fall into that tired troupe I was talking about earlier.
To go next to the acting, I think for the most part falls flat as well. Vidal I did think was good. She is quite attractive for an older lady and I like the mood swings that she has. It really feels like someone descending into madness where one minute she seems to be getting on track and then next she’s slipping again when something happens. A lot of this is done with facial expressions which I like as well. Chisum was just kind of there. It seems like an uninspired performance. Pelegrin wasn’t great, but as a child I’ll let him slide. Lakin was good looking as well, but it’s a shallow character without any development. The rest of the cast is fine, but no one really stands out.
I’ll cover next the effects of the film. There are a few practical ones like the blood and some of the wounds. I would say these are fine. They looked pretty real, but the problem is they decided to go more CGI. These computer effects weren’t good unfortunately. We get bad green screen sky to show the weather, there are some flashes of light that don’t look real and people getting sucked into things that didn’t work either. The film is shot well, but they should have gone more practical with the effects as the CGI looks cheap.
Now with that said, this film has an interesting concept with the back-story and the mythology introduced, but it really didn’t go where I wanted it to. I know some of this probably comes from the lack of budget to make the effects look good, but that becomes an issue with the story then if you can’t execute. It is boring I think because of what they focus on as well. The acting just seems uninspired aside from Vidal. The practical effects are good, but they went heavy with the CGI and it doesn’t hold up. The soundtrack didn’t really stand out to me or hurt it as well. I would say this film is sub-par, but I’ll some credit to the positive things I said above. I wouldn’t really recommend this though as it doesn’t really do anything that makes it needed to be seen.
My Rating: 4.5 out of 10