Mirror Mirror gives the video experience of what would happen if Beetlejuice mated with one of those “sexy” thrillers of the 90s and produced a child, a dark teen comedy demon possession movie. I guess the demon possession part is a mutation. It’s not really all that sexy, with no nudity, but it has the lighting and camera work of one of that era of thriller, if that makes sense.
Weirdly, it’s more of a feminist horror flick than many I’ve seen that are described as such. It’s because all the principal parts are played by women, and the men are absent or ineffective. You’ve got your classic mean girls with great hair, but their boyfriends never display emotion beyond mild annoyance or mild arousal and are very much background characters. The antique dealer and the real estate agent aren’t shown with men and the main character’s dad is dead. Actually, he is the scariest character in the movie, but I digress.
The point is, it’s a feminist horror film because it doesn’t make a point of being feminist, it just happens to have all strong female characters playing the major parts. The new girl at school, Megan (Rainbow Harvest), who has a possessed mirror in her new house, befriends the girl-next-door/final girl (Kristin Datillo) before herself getting possessed. Megan gains killer psychic powers from the demon in the mirror. Both Megan and Nikki are in conflict with the rich snobby girl (Charlie Spradling) at school and she ends up steamed alive like some giant lobster in the school gym showers. The old lady antique dealer (Yvonne DeCarlo) tries to stop Megan and is killed by an exploding mirror. Megan’s kooky mom (Karen Black) is dating too soon for Megan’s taste after the dad’s death, so, she gets into a fight with her garbage disposal. Then Nikki tries to fight to save Megan from the mirror. It’s even a pair of sisters that are responsible for the mirror demon at the beginning of the film..
It probably helps that Mirror Mirror was written by (Annette and Gina Cascone) and directed by (Marina Sargenti) women. I have no idea if they intended for the movie to be feminist, but it feels like it almost got that way organically, just by the writers naturally writing from a female point of view because it’s easier to think like those characters. At least, it can be read that way.
Mirror Mirror spawned three! sequels and is a fun watch. It’s not the greatest movie in the world, but it does have some unique horror elements. The cheap-ass looking demon was used sparingly, usually invisible as a P.O.V. through the mirror, and always from a darker perspective than the person in the room with it, on the “other” side. I liked the many shots of people reflected in the mirror also. It made the mirror a character in the film and gave it what foreboding atmosphere it had. Also, it was interesting the way Megan’s character is played like a psychotic psychic rather than a head spinning, foul-mouthed, rabid-looking possession cliche. The characters were neither self-awarely witty nor moronic, but seemed to match the level of the material.
This movie is probably unfairly obscure. It takes me back to the video store days and renting this thinking it wasn’t that scary. It’s not, but it has a certain nostalgic late 80s charm. You could do a whole lot worse.
P.S. After writing this, while proofreading, I realized the word “mirror” looks funny to me because I typed/read it so many times!