Horror and ‘reality’ are often paired together in the world of film. Many a blockbuster or B-movie has had ‘Based on true events’ plastered on it’s cover or home video sleeve. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) claimed the killings depicted had actually happened; despite the fact they were making the film the same time as these killings were meant to have taken place. Many people still believe that The Exorcist (1973) was an account of a real exorcism all these decades later. As you will no doubt know this is a method to hook viewers in regardless of how frivolous or far-fetched the ‘factual source material’ may be. Then there are those who use urban legends, stories that are passed on from generation to generation which usually involve something that happened to a friend of a friend’s neighbour’s cleaning lady’s niece. Yet these are still- to some extent- believed by people and exploited by film makers to add an extra something to their movie. Which brings us to The Mirror...
In 2013 a ‘news story’ broke and went viral about how a ‘haunted mirror’ was for sale on eBay. The Daily Mail of all ‘news’ sources even reported on it. Somebody actually bid on the item, paying £100, meaning they were the new owners of a haunted mirror. The Mirror is a movie revolving around a ‘found footage’ fictionalized story of the people who bought the mirror and what happened to them afterwards. Three flatmates have purchased the item so they can film it 24/7 for a ‘paranormal challenge’ they have entered. They find out, to their horror, the mirror is actually haunted and it wreaks havoc on them.
A slow burner, The Mirror is a refreshing take on an urban legend because the ‘legend’ or myth that it borrows from is so recent and new. Undoubtedly the news stories and website articles that documented the story in 2013 will now be recycled as an urban legend by social media savvy teens or gullible net surfers. If a photo of Steven Spielberg on the set of Jurassic Park next to a prop of a dead dinosaur can have some internet users thinking he actually killed and posed next to a ‘real’ dinosaur (there are so many things wrong with this scenario, just think about it for a moment) then the tale of a ‘haunted’ mirror isn’t going to insult the intelligence of those same people. It is impressive that the director can make the source material work so well however. From the set up director Boase builds tension and fear as the story moves along.
Jemma (Jemma Dallender of I Spit on Your Grave 2), Matt (Joshua Dickinson) and Steve (Nate Fellows) are the only characters in The Mirror. It seems that as it is them who have decided to buy the mirror then it is them alone who will suffer the consequences. It also appears the movie is trying to show the viewer the ‘flip side’ of the news story; what happens to these people/nutters who think buying a haunted mirror is a good idea. The reality is that whoever won the auction in 2013 in reality just has an ugly mirror gathering dust in the spare room- having wasted £100 on something they could have got at any charity shop for £5. The Mirror obviously cannot show that, it would have been more a comedy than a horror anyway, but what it does explore is ‘what if’ the mirror is possessed by some evil spirit after all?
The movie slots into the found footage sub-genre of horror and as such it is typical, in places, of these type of features. All characters have to record everything, all the time. When things go wrong they oddly continue filming and most of the ‘good stuff’ happens just off camera or is saved for the ending. Not that this hampers The Mirror. Some of the techniques the friends use to record themselves are original for a found footage flick and this actually lends itself to some genuinely creepy scenes an hour into the run time. Readers won’t be shocked to learn that, yes, the mirror is haunted after all and the trio are in trouble. Ed Boase does try and keep the viewer guessing for a while, though.
An entertaining and creepy tale of what happens ‘after the headline’, The Mirror has three strong actors, a great plot and makes a frivolous idea work. Showing at this year’s FrightFest and released on DVD on August 25th, it’s a fun little horror. The only question that remains is will the real buyers of the haunted mirror be alive to see it?
FrightFest info for The Mirror here.