Hall of Mirrors Movie Review

It's not easy to bring a movie in under budget. Just ask Lucas, Zemeckis, or any big name director. But how do you manage to make a film without a budget at all -- a budget so non-existent that your actors work for free and you spend more of your time begging for spare change to get your next scene shot than you do actually shooting it? Just ask Brad Osborne, writer and director of Hall of Mirrors; a feature-length film that manages to achieve big budget ideals with the cash equivalent of my 4th grade production on Pecos Bill.

Hall of Mirrors stars unknown Eric Johnson as Dylan, a compulsive gambler deeply in debt and quickly running out of time. With bill collectors and bookies breathing down his neck, Dylan decides to roll the dice one more time and trusts the wrong people. Sucked in by promises of easy money, and fooled by the seductive wiles of a beautiful temptress (Julie Arebalo), Dylan quickly finds himself in way over his head. Trapped in a world of con artists and counterfeiters, Hall of Mirrors presents twist after twist, pushing Dylan deeper and deeper into meltdown.

Hall of Mirrors, despite its micro-budget background, is not a typically heady indie flick. It's clear that this troupe of wandering souls thinks movies are fun and are mostly intent on giving their audience lots of it. Rather than mucking about with moral questions and meaning-of-life crap, Osborne and company stick to excitement, with a film that would seem more comfortable on the hot plate of Bruce Willis, rather than languishing in independent obscurity.

While Mirrors' cast isn't exactly "A" list, most do a surprisingly competent job, especially when one considers they are all working for free. Julie Arebalo is particularly delightful, flitting from seductress to desperate waif in a cat and mouse game of cons. In fact, most of the cast is wholly enjoyable, with only one or two woefully inadequate exceptions. Patrick Jordan in particular, who plays Dylan's best friend, seems to have trouble with realistic delivery of his lines. His demeanor frequently devolves into that of a Dilbert character, instead of a burly bosom buddy.

At best, writing isn't this movie's strong suit, but Brad Osborne is one hell of a director. Let's be honest... he's working with nothing and desperately trying to do everything. Here's a director not satisfied with staying within his budgetary requirements. It's obvious Mirrors' crew went out of their way to find creative and off the wall ways to catch the shots they needed, the way they wanted them, without spending a dime to do it. If this were a 50 million dollar picture, Osborne could be well on his way to being heralded as the next Tim Burton.

His visual style is dark and rich, filled with a love of color and shadow that translates beautifully onto film, despite the limits placed upon him. As it is, though, Osborne just doesn't have the money to accomplish what he wants. Shots that should be breathtaking come off in a soap opera light at best, and attempts at bringing out depth and character in his actors, while valiant, frequently end up flat.

However, even though Osborne and company have done incredible things with absolutely nothing, I wouldn't exactly say they have something to show for it all. Hall of Mirrors is a great beginning for a talented group of people from whom I fully expect to see much better things in the future. Keep an eye on Osborne.

Smokin' Mirrors.


Comments

Hall of Mirrors Rating

" OK "

Rating: NR, 2000

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