Dark Mirror Movie Review

For his debut feature-length Dark Mirror, the 35-year-old director Pablo Proenza has attempted to turn his heroine's fascination with light and angles -- she is a photographer and stay-at-home mother -- into his visual aesthetic. Sunlight blinds the eye as it pours through a window, and certain images are impaired by strains of artificial light in an attempt to call attention not only to the protagonist's state of mind but also the very process of filmmaking that is going on. Proenza wants us to be aware we are watching a film.

This is sadly the most interesting thing I can say about Dark Mirror, an otherwise dull, overwrought and hopelessly conventional thriller about a photographer named Deborah (Lisa Vidal) who triggers something when she takes a photo of herself in her bathroom mirror. Opening the gateway to the past or an alternative reality or, hey, her own madness, she begins to see images of a hooded slasher who inevitably begins to accrue a small body count.

Deborah has a loving and understanding husband (soap star David Chisum) who tries to calm her but can't fathom the supernatural goings-on. Her mother (Lupe Ontiveros, slumming) and bratty son (Joshua Pelegrin) seem to just float around, waiting for a moment of attention from Proenza. When she uncovers an eerie painting and a diary of cryptic drawings in the house, our earnest photographer begins to go into hysterics, leading to a final act that is profoundly absurd, even by current thriller standards.

There's a calmness to the imagery, shot by Armando Salas (Cocaine Cowboys), which may prove, to some, a welcome reprieve from the jittery, sub-gothic blitzkrieg that typifies the stylistic palette of the current strain of supernatural thrillers (The Unborn, The Uninvited). It is this same calm, however, that muzzles any eeriness that Proenza attempts to build; in terms of visuals, they have gone to the other extreme and instead of inducing a headache (or nausea), they induce yawns.

Forgetting for a second that the "killer" looks exactly like the vengeful fisherman in (never thought I'd say this) the superior I Know What You Did Last Summer, Proenza strives for cerebral and consistently ends up hitting melodrama, holding onto a hysterical woman berating Deborah and yet rarely harnessing his use of light to advance any of his scares. The director has a hard time focusing on what his film is really about, the result becoming a bland, indecisive dissection of horror/thriller clichés.

Is this a haunted house or a troubled woman? Ghost in the machine or a repressed culture come to bear? The script, written by Proenza and producer Matthew Reynolds, doesn't clarify, but there's an eerie feeling that the Florida-born writer/director didn't intentionally leave us in the dark. Ambiguity is a good thing when it is harnessed for a point, but in Mirror, it seems to be the residue of a lazy, uncaring production.

Cast & Crew

Director : Pablo Proenza

Producer : Erin Ploss-Campoamor

Starring : , , Joshua Pelegrin, , , David Farkas

Comments

Dark Mirror Rating

" Terrible "

Rating: NR, 2007

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