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DARK MIRROR
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Reviewed by: JimmyO

Directed by: Pablo Proenza

Starring:
Lisa Vidal
David Chisum
Joshua Pelegrin

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
When a photographer and her husband and child move into a new house, she finds herself drawn to the many windows that cover her new home. Yet soon, she realizes that there may be something evil lurking behind the reflection as everyone she takes a picture of seems to disappear and it always leads back to the house itself.
Is it good movie?
Much like the many reflective windows and mirrors surrounding the house where a photographer moves into with her family, Dark Mirror is atmospheric and stylish and full of shadows. Director Pablo Proenza relishes the use of light and reflection as the young woman finds that she may have awakened something that lingers inside the (possibly) haunted abode. There is nuance as the woman, Deborah Martin (Lisa Vidal) begins to question who the strange, hooded figure that seems to watch from just outside where the frosted glass distorts the image. And for the first half of the film there is truly the making of a good, old-fashioned ghost story here. But the spooks donít stay in the house, they travel with her as she photographs various people she comes in contact with. And of course, once they are forever caught in the cameras view, they disappear.

If this sounds convoluted, it is just a little. And if it sounds pretentious, well, it kind of is that too. But Proenza has such a good eye for creating spooky visions while only relying on light and shadow, that I think there may be a terrific horror movie coming soon from his mind. And while the slow moving, but visually impressive Dark Mirror falls flat as it delivers its not so surprising ending, it takes a few interesting turns to get there. It feels like I havenít seen a J-Horror movie in quite awhile, so in a strange way, I was happy to see that style recreated for this American thriller. From haunted mirrors, to a camera that photographs soon to be missing individuals, this seemed straight out of a world of haunted Japanese technology. But with that, I found that the actual scares were missing from this ghostly tale. With the best in J-Horror, there was always that moment that made for a memorable fright fest. There was nothing all that terrifying here.

So while the story wasnít great, and the scares were almost non-existent, what did work? As I mentioned, the imagery is quite good and the lighting design is terrific. But what really kept me interested when Dark Mirror felt a little too self-indulgent, was the wonderful performance of Lisa Vidal. She is not at all like your typical horror scream queen. She is older and has a very non-traditional look for a leading lady in a thriller. But she definitely had the acting chops to play this woman who carries the entire film on her shoulders. If they had gone with another, less talented actress, this wouldnít have worked at all. Her scenes with her family, including husband Jim (David Chisum) and their young son Ian (Joshua Pelegrin) are very believable and therefore, brings a little bit of substance to the style. While not a perfect thriller, there are moments that still have me offering up a slight recommendation.
Video / Audio
The Extras
Last Call
A J-Horror inspired thriller that works on a handful of levels, including mood and strong performances. But it fails when it comes to delivering a good scare or two, or even a strong climax. I didnít find anything all that original as it treads on some familiar supernatural ground. Seriously, mirrors must be one of the most overused props in horror films. But thanks to a director who can create a decent looking picture with the help of a strong cinematographer, and a very talented leading lady, there are worse ways to spend an hour and a half. Yet next time, hopefully Pablo will bring the scary.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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