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Stars: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Rory Cochrane, Katee Sackhoff, Annalise Basso, Garrett Ryan, Miguel Sandoval

Director: Mike Flanagan

It's probably time that another great horror film came around, but we'll have to wait a while longer. This is the one about the evil/haunted mirror, a theme that dates back to the 1945 Ealing classic Dead of Night and (before anyone writes in to correct me) probably before that.

Naturally this modern example has buckets more gore and hordes of grey-faced, white-eyed ghosts, all victims of the eponymous looking-glass. The beast in question here is the Lasser Glass, a rather ugly ornate mirror which has been claiming victims at least as far back as the mid 18th century. Most of them have died with bloody, self-inflicted wounds.

Ten years before the main action, the parents (Cochrane, Sackhoff) of Kaylie (Basso) and her 11-year-old brother Tim (Ryan) move in with the mirror, which swiftly consumes and finally ends the parents' lives.

When Tim (now Thwaites) emerges from a mental hospital a decade later, having been committed for killing his father, he finds that his sister (now Gillan, of Doctor Who fame) has unwisely decided to take the mirror on and 'finish this', employing all kinds of technical devices, but obviously forgetting the film's tagline that 'you only see what it wants you to see'. Things soon get out of hand...

There are elements of The Shining here, as well as more conventional horror, but the mirror is inevitably a personality-free villain, and the director, who seems much taken with the idea of people biting bloodily into such things as plates and light bulbs, is forced to fall back on the ghosts for his shock moments.

All the performances are good (Cochrane especially), but it's of only marginal help to a film that, unlike the mirror, never really reaches out to grip us to what is clearly going to be an unresolved story, leading to an anti-climactic finale that will leave you feeling let down.

David Quinlan

USA 2013. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Colour (unspecified).
103 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 09 Jun 2014