Dark Force Entertainment: Mirror, Mirror (1990) - Reviewed

Ever since Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs depicted the evil queen’s narcissistic gaze into the magic mirror while imploring ‘who is the fairest one of all?’, the mirror has been a mainstay of modern horror evoking the supernatural or devilish.  Including but not limited to films like The Shining, Poltergeist and The Evil Dead movies, the reflective pane of glass as a tool for supernatural horror is one filmmakers can’t help but return to time and time again.  Movies like Mirrors and Oculus continued to carry the torch in later years yet the object rarely became the focus of a movie except in certain scenes.

With the directorial debut of eventual television director Marina Sargenti’s one and only feature film Mirror, Mirror, (originally entitled The Black Glass) the black magic mirror took center stage and presented a largely derivative but still engaging horror film with some inspired tricks up it’s evil sleeves.  Enter introverted goth teen Megan (Rainbow Harvest), a poor woman’s Lydia Deetz from Beetlejuice, who moves into a small town with her widowed mother Susan (Karen Black).  Upon entering high school, she endures the nastiness and scorn of her classmates and quickly becomes ostracized.  That is, until a certain tall antique mirror left behind by the previous owner begins to effect drastic changes within Megan’s life, gifting her supernatural powers over others ala Carrie, setting the stage for demonic energies to spill over into our world.

An inspired little teen horror indie with more than a few wild death scenes and some clever visual effects sequences, the Detroit, Michigan produced Mirror, Mirror is the kind of film where you can point out its influences before they appear onscreen and yet its hard to mind as the movie plays out.  From eventual Deadtime Stories screenwriters Annette and Gina Cascone, we’ve seen this kind of story before of a once good girl gone bad thanks to forces of black magic beyond her understanding or control.  We’ve also seen the mean high-school girl film many times over and winds up holding our attention anyway thanks to the leading performance of Rainbow Harvest and to the visual effects team who cook up some grisly gore and creature effects.  Also Blade Runner fans are inclined to look for William Sanderson as Karen Black’s on/off boyfriend.

Premiering theatrically in Detroit, Michigan, Mirror, Mirror opened to decent business but mixed to middling reviews.  Over the years, however, the film became a franchise spawning a total of three sequels before forming cult status though fans still point to the first film as the best.  Seen now, Mirror, Mirror definitely shows its age as a product of the 1990s but on its own terms remains a nifty horror indie and another important forward step for the development of original homegrown Michigan horror.  Dated and derivative but nonetheless an effective demonic chiller.

--Andrew Kotwicki