From Ealing’s Dead of Night (1945) to the recent Oculus (2013), haunted mirrors are nothing new in horror and when another one adorned the Frightfest programme I was a little skeptical to say the least, especially as Ed Boase’s feature implemented ‘found footage’, a Paranormal Activity style array of digital cameras and a claustrophobic apartment setting. However for a film shot on a shoe string budget and with an alluring ‘true story’ lurking behind its supernatural hijinks, The Mirror was a surprising addition to the ‘found footage’ genre in both its reluctance to pander to cliches and its superb improvisational performances. Refusing to break into outlandish supernatural storms or Ouija boards, The Mirror simulates psychological breakdown, uncertainty and if you have seen the DVD cover, satisfying ocular castration.
Set over the course of a couple of weeks, The Mirror sees a group of film students attempt to win a competition by buying a supposedly haunted mirror off eBay and setting up cameras to film its results. While it seems that a lot isn’t really happening one of the crews behaviour starts to act very strange, becomes reserved and he even starts to sleepwalk with a convenient chest mounted Gopro (adding a Halloween inspired ‘slasher cam’ to the proceedings). While the found footage element is nothing that you haven’t seen before, the slow build development of the three lead actor’s characters and Boase’s keen eye for horror conventions renders The Mirror a horror with genuine tension.
While the original story on which the film was based saw two London flatmates being tormented in more flamboyant ways, Boase’s achievement on such a small budget is commendable and I eagerly await to see what he can achieve when he isn’t bound and gagged by the pragmatic, cost effective mood building scenes of ‘found footage’ horror. Nevertheless it was especially satisfying for once to have a ‘haunted artefact’ that escapes any reasoning and simply consumes, as opposed to characters doing obligatory internet searches or speaking to sinister antique shop owners. The mirror simply exists, every look effects you in ways you can’t comprehend and before you know it your gouging your own eyeballs out. Again the DVD cover garnishes this pretty huge spoiler.
While the movie is rendered mundane when compared to the similarly improvised, low – budget found – footage flick Creep, its skillful direction, atmospheric immersion and excellent performances make Ed Boase a director to watch, even if the true story it is based on is a constructed marketing plot designed to push the film to the festival circuit. For in – depth stories from the production and more information his previous work, check out my interview with Ed Boase here.
Director: Edward Boase
Cast: Jemma Dallender, Joshua Dickinson, Nate Fallows
Runtime: 88 mins