Dark Mirror

Dark Mirror has some good original ideas. It supposedly has all its horror in the daylight but this is not strictly true. What would a horror film be without a bit of hiding in the dark during a storm under your bed?

Having landed a plum new job, Jim Martin (David Chisum) decides to relocate his wife Debbie (Lisa Vidal) and their young son Ian (Joshua Pelegrin) from rainy Seattle to the bright sunshine of Southern California (thus setting up our horror in the daylight scenario). They view one unpromising house after another until they happen upon a property that Debbie is strangely drawn to. She is impressed with its decorative glass window panels and the reclusive artist who once lived there and decides that this is her dream home – until of course all sorts of spooky shit hits the fan.

The house has a dark past, the artist and his family who used to live there disappeared and were never seen again. Debbie is a photographer who seems to set off a chain of supernatural and horrific events when she takes a photo in one of the rooms. As people around her start to go missing she becomes increasingly convinced that her camera and the house are haunted by a killer.

This film combines a few different ideas and melds them into quite a nice little horror tale. As Debbie becomes more and more paranoid and terrified you find yourself wondering how much of what is occurring is real or in her mind.

There are a series of supporting characters who are little more than clichéd devices to move the story along but Vidal gives a stand out performance as a woman slowly going out of her mind with fear. The next door neighbour, perky actress and exhibitionist Tammy (Christine Lakin) is a good turn but has got victim writ large all over her bikini bottoms. David Chisum as Debbie’s husband Jim is pretty much defunct except as one of many McGuffins. There are however some nice twists and jumpy moments.

A lot of the feel of the film comes from overexposed scenes giving it a great washed out and bleak feel. It is a fast paced film which is always good with a low budget horror – you want to get right to the main course. Some of the best horror films are set in suburban houses which are beset by hauntings and the woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown in the domestic setting is not a new concept but always speaks to the audience on some level.

This film was shot in 2007 and it is unclear why it has taken so long to hit DVD as this seems like a made for DVD type of film. It appears to be the feature debut of director Pablo Proenza and I think as such it can be considered a good start. The film works best inside the house and is at its most convincing there. It won’t amaze you but as B movie horrors go it does exactly what it says on the tin.

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