Who did Maria see in the “Dark Mirror”: the hidden meaning of the thriller
Country: Canada, USA
Genre: Drama, Thriller, Fantasy
Year of production: 2018
Directed by: Asaf Bernstein
Cast: India Eisley, Mira Sorvino, Jason Isaacs, Penelope Mitchell
tagline: Unleash your secret desires
The plot and meaning of the film “Dark Mirror”, (“Look away”), released in 2018, did not receive much attention from the audience. The movie received a limited release, and despite the high-quality camera work and good acting, the idea and its implementation turned out to be rather weak against the background of many similar works. And yet, the authors managed to hang intrigue, forcing them to look for a hidden meaning in the picture and create various interpretations of what they saw.
What is the movie about
“Dark Mirror” begins with ultrasound images of the mother’s womb. On them, one child fights with another. After that, we are shown the usual morning of the main character – Mary. She has breakfast with her parents, after which she goes to school. There, her classmate Mark bullies her. The girl has only one friend, Lily, and Maria is secretly in love with her boyfriend, Sean. The heroine has a tense relationship with her parents. After another quarrel that arose due to Maria’s disagreement to look for a couple for a school ball, she discovers a photograph with two babies in one womb – the same ones that were shown to us at the beginning.
The role of Mary was played by India Eisley. Frame from the film.
One day, a girl notices with horror that her reflection in a dark mirror begins to seem to take on a life of her own. Trying to talk to her father the next day, she meets the usual pressure and reproach in an unattractive appearance from him. At school, Mark continues to pester Maria. Sean stands up for her.
At home in the bathroom, Maria seems to see fragments of memories of childbirth. That same evening, she hears the call of her double in the reflection, goes to him and decides to speak. To the question “Who are you?” the reflection answers with the question: “Don’t you remember me?”. The doppelgänger calls himself Yairam (Maria on the contrary) and says that he can save Mary from her troubles. At the same time, when the heroine assumes “Are you me?”, Yairam replies in the negative.
Maria and her father go to the cinema for a candid film. The girl sees Mark in the hall and after the session, he deliberately runs into her. The father understands everything and says that he will give his daughter a gift.
Maria continues to communicate with the double in the reflection. Yairam reveals the painful truth about his father: that he is ashamed of his daughter, because she is a stain on his vanity. The girl objects: her father takes care of her.
A father tells his daughter about his gift. He is a plastic surgeon and offers to give Maria an operation to make her look better. The girl, almost crying, agrees. Yairam thus proves his case.
Frame from the film.
The mother of the heroine notices that her daughter is talking to herself, she is overcome with excitement. She takes a pill (probably not the first time) and informs her husband that her disturbing dreams have returned.
Lily calls her friend to learn to skate, but this turns out to be a reason for her self-affirmation and threats: Maria should not approach Sean and show him signs of attention. After that, Yairam, referring to childhood memories, tells Maria that Lily has never been a good friend. The double offers the girl to switch places with her in order to settle everything. Maria is ready to do it, but the conversation is interrupted by her mother.
At the school ball, Sean asks the heroine to dance. Maria is happy, but seeing Lily’s gaze, she stumbles. Mark gives her a hand, but it turns out to be a ploy for another humiliation.
Maria is depressed and switches places with Yairam with a kiss. After that, the mother begins to suffer nightmares with renewed vigor.
Yairam, pretending to be Maria, begins to behave boldly – both with his parents and classmates. Declaring to her father at work, she says that she is bored, after which she makes her mother find out about her husband’s affair. At home, Yairam puts pressure on his mother, offering to admit that their marriage has long been unreliable. She rebuffs Mark, and later cripples him, arranges an accident at the skating rink, as a result of which Lily dies.
Maria, now in the mirror, is against all this. But Yairam insists: she’s just doing what the girl always wanted to do, but was afraid to do. In addition, in her opinion, the others deserved it, it’s time for them to learn the truth about their sin.
The role of Lily was played by Penelope Mitchell, and Sean was played by Harrison Gilbertson. Frame from the film.
After Lily’s death, Maria is desperate and wants to return. Yairam stands her ground: she does everything right, for both of them. To the next question “Who are you?” the doppelgänger says, “You know me.” Maria obeys and begins to behave like a reflection.
Yairam seduces Sean. One day, driving up to the school, she sees a police car outside the building. Yairam persuades Sean to run away from classes and retire to a hotel room. There, the guy’s mother calls and says that the police want to talk to him and Maria. Sean is about to go, but Yairam asks him to stay. The guy pushes the girl away and she kills him. Maria in the mirror is desperate, but can’t do anything.
The girl’s mother sees a dream with a memory of how her husband insisted on putting her sister Maria to sleep after giving birth, because she was disfigured. To the question “Why can’t we just love her?” he replies, “She is disfigured. Doesn’t make sense.”
Yairam again comes to work with his father, pretending to be drunk, undresses in front of him and asks if he thinks she is beautiful and if he would love her if she was disfigured. The father answers in the affirmative, the girl in response cuts his throat. Already over a lifeless body, she asks: “Why couldn’t you just love me?”
Washing his hands, Yairam looks into a dark mirror and tries to call Maria. But he only sees his own reflection. The girl walks barefoot through the city. We see how in the car glass Maria silently and distantly looks at Yairam.
Yairam comes home, lies down next to his mother, hugging her. In a series of mirror shots at the end, we see that the mother seems to be hugging both her daughters.
India Eisley as Maria and Yairam, Mira Sorvino as the mother, Amy. Frame from the film.
The content of the film “Dark Mirror” does not allow to give an unambiguous clue to the events shown. In their analysis, viewers, giving an explanation of the ending, offer basically two options:
1) Yairam is indeed the spirit of Mary’s twin sister.
2) There never was a double, like the sister of the heroine – Maria went crazy.
There is also a third one that unites these two: there was a sister, and her father really killed her, but the double is not a spirit at all, but the personality of Mary, which arose as a result of a mental disorder.
The problem is that, guided by even the most detailed description of the events shown, we will equally successfully find confirmation of each of these versions. For example, on the one hand, we can argue that a twin girl existed, because it was not in vain that we were shown childbirth from the side of the parents. And it’s not for nothing that the mother is tormented by nightmares.
On the other hand, these same nightmares seemed to be transferred to Maria – we see such an episode at the beginning of the film before meeting with Yairam. And her find is too surprising: the photograph seemed to have been waiting in the wings for all eighteen years, being literally in the most prominent place.
Unfortunately, there are too many plot blunders in The Dark Mirror for which there is no reasonable explanation. So, from scratch, Yairam learned to skate almost at the level of the national champion in just a few days. At the same time, we are not given to understand that she has some other supernatural abilities. Mark is crippled, he disappears and everyone (including even the police, who seem to be only interested in Lily’s death) forgets about him. Thanks to such assumptions, we cannot say that the authors have thought of everything perfectly and that they have a clear version that only needs to be deciphered.
The meaning of the ending of the film “Dark Mirror” inclines us to the fact that the twin sister was originally. Still, too much emphasis is placed on the feelings of the mother here. The last frame tells us so: now the family is assembled. The events leading up to the ending also hint: the girls are now one.
Whether there was a real double or whether Mary had a split personality is not so important. This does not change the essence of the film, the psychologism remains at the same level.
The meaning of the film
The same problem arises here as in explaining the events of the Dark Mirror. The authors, it seems, tried to make as much sense as possible, raising a whole range of sensitive topics in the picture: dictatorship in the family, bullying at school, fake friendship, love and growing up, betrayal, the cult of appearance. So at the end, one feels not intentional, but inevitable understatement.
And yet the main nerve can be felt: it is the problem of acceptance and devotion. Toward the end of the film, the authors hinted at the main message. Yairam and Sean escape from a lecture on the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. At this point, the teacher talks about the ninth circle of hell. Here dwell sinners guilty of betrayal. Recall that Yairam spoke about a certain sin in which others are guilty (and it was not only about parents).
The meaning is this: betrayal is exactly what Maria feels towards herself. She is betrayed by her father when he considers her ugly (it is no coincidence that a very attractive actress plays the heroine – the audience should see that he is wrong). Perhaps the murder of the disfigured sister is just a subconscious exaggeration of this problem by the main character: Maria is literally killed by such an attitude from her father.
Mary is betrayed by her mother when she agrees with her father.
Maria is betrayed by her friend Lily. Sean also betrays, not giving her a hand after falling at the prom.
In the end, if you accept the version with madness, Maria betrays herself when, wanting to do better, she destroys everything around.
The literal translation of the film’s title is “Turn Away”. This is what traitors do. This is what people do when they don’t want to accept something in their life – they choose not to notice. Behind the gloomy atmosphere of the film is a simple but correct message: you should be kinder and more tolerant to your loved ones.
The role of Maria’s father, Dan, was played by Jason Isaacs. Frame from the film.
Movies similar to Dark Mirror
- “Mirrors” (USA, 2008). Horror about demons living in mirrors.
- “The Other Me” (UK, Spain, 2013). The girl is haunted by her dark past
- Carrie (USA, 1976) Adaptation of Stephen King’s first published novel, directed by Brian De Palma. A timid girl who is bullied at school and at home discovers terrible powers within herself.
- “Carrie” (USA, 2002). Another film adaptation of King’s novel, which many consider the best.
- “Telekinesis” (USA, Canada, 2013). The newest adaptation of Carrie.
- “Bringing Death” (Canada, 2005). The dead outcast girl takes revenge on the offenders.