The Mirror is inspired by two things from real life. Firstly is a supposed real-life story of a haunted mirror being found and sold, which is included on the DVD of the film as a bonus feature. The evidence for the haunting in this case consists of things like someone getting a sharp pain in their leg… a lot like a cramp from the sound of it… after they spent a long day lifting furniture and redecorating. Needless to say the film itself is only vaguely inspired by this account. This also wouldn’t up to the second main reference point, the James Randi Foundation. As mentioned in the film, the foundation of sceptics offers an open prize of $1million to anyone offering actual scientifically tested and authenticated proof of a supernatural ability or force. The thing is, despite what the characters in here think, the foundation requires something a bit more rigorous and formal than a Big Brother audition tape.
Flatmates Jemma (Jemma Dallender), Matt (Joshua Dickinson) and Steve (Nate Fallows), on hearing about the challenge, discover a listing on eBay for a supposedly haunted mirror. They decide to buy it, hang it in the flat, and film around the flat constantly in the hope of catching something on tape. The thing is, it does bring strange events into their lives, but in a way none of them were prepared for.
Starting with the positives, the film’s focus on just three characters in one fairly narrow flat does do wonders for aiding tension. It keeps matters confined, to the scope, the location, and the filming. The found footage filming is done well too, with one smart touch being in the use of a Go-Pro attached to one characters chest, so that every time it’s filmed from there, we hear his heartbeat in the background. It also wisely favours tension building over the sort of jump scares most of these films use, and it even finds a few directions to take this tension that you don’t expect, with one unnerving sequence ending in an unexpected, but cleverly realistic way. Finally, there’s a good focus on characterisation, with the first act devoted to establishing the character dynamics and the layout of the flat before letting the horror begin.
The thing is though, overall there’s little here we haven’t already seen before in quite a lot of other found footage movies. There’s a lot of wandering around dark hallways, moments of characters looking at the cameras to work out what happened and them not doing some fairly obvious things to get out of trouble. Plus, the tension building goes on a bit too long, going from wondering what’s going to happen, to wanting the film to just get on with it. This is not helped by a big dollop of the old “why are you filming right now” rearing its head as well. On the flipside, at least one camera angle is done in a way that does enhance the scares with a twisted sort of logic to it. But another issue is when gore enters the mix. There’s at least one major scene of blood thrown in when it really didn’t need to, and probably would have worked better with that matter just implied. In a way, it’s like the film got a bit too greedy, wanting more grotesqueness in horror, when the quiet anticipation was working a lot better. Also, if one of the final surprises does actually shock you, you’ve probably never seen a horror movie before. Again, if one earlier matter hadn’t been shown and just implied, that last reveal might have worked much better.
The Mirror is still an OK little exercise in micro budget found footage filmmaking. Indeed, it’s fairly well made, the actors all acquit themselves well, and there are good things in here. The main trouble is that it really doesn’t do more to differentiate itself from a lot other things out there. If it found some way to get further away from the Paranormal Activity format of these things, it might work out a lot better. As it is, it’s mildly effective while you watch it, but it’s not one you’ll remember much.
Oh, and an open letter to DVD companies; stop putting one of the main reveals of the film right on the cover!