It’s films like The Mirror (2014) which make one despair about the current state of films in general, and more specifically those which try to pass themselves off as horror. This new chiller by British writer and director Edward Boase has all the finesse of an amateur dramatics production without any of the appeal which allows you to overlook the shortcomings of such enterprises. In order to enter a one million dollar competition to prove the existence of paranormal activity, a group of three friends – Jemma (I Spit on Your Grave 2’s Jemma Dallender), Matt (Joshua Dickinson) and Steve (Nate Fallows) – buy a reputedly haunted mirror on eBay, and set out to record their studies of it.
Unfortunately, what the trio eventually discover is more shocking than they could have imagined, and has devastating consequences for them all. Haunted mirrors are nothing new in horror. From as far back as Ealing’s portmanteau horror Dead of Night (1945) and Kevin Connor’s From Beyond the Grave (1974), to more recent offerings such as Mike Flanagan’s Oculus (2013), looking glasses have managed to scare cinema goers by the sheer normality of the object. Here is something which everyone has in their home and, as a result, can relate to. All of which should, you would think, make Boase’s film the ideal basis for horror – which indeed it might in the hands of a more experienced and competent filmmaker. But The Mirror is only his second full length feature as director, and it shows.
Conceived as a found-footage piece – the format that’s overuse in the horror genre in particular is fast becoming tiresome – the resultant frightener lacks soul or imagination. Clearly filmed on a restricted budget, the action takes place mostly within the confines of a spartan flat, which looks expensive but characterless. A good word to describe the film as a whole. Who the three twentysomethings that people the plot are is anyone’s guess, though as they’re generally obnoxious and foul-mouthed it’s doubtful this will concern you greatly. With so many talented would-be writers, actors and filmmakers out there – who could doubtlessly produce exciting, original work if they were simply given the opportunity – it’s frustrating that projects like this are the type which actually get further than initial pitch. If The Mirror is a reflection of the current state of British filmmaking, then we can only hope things improve.
Film4 FrightFest 2014 takes place from 21-25 August. For more of our FrightFest coverage, simply follow this link.