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Home | Film Review: House of Mirrors (2012)

Film Review: House of Mirrors (2012)


Max Emerson, played by Brian Shotwell, is a successful music executive whose seemingly perfect life is turned upside down after waking up in his mansion. Amnesiac and unable to remember how he got there, he receives a phone call from a stranger claiming to have evidence that he committed a murder the night before.

With just 48 hours to solve the crime, the sadistic madman strings him along, taunting him with clues as his therapist, Ramona (played by Josette Pacino), helps him remember the events leading up to that fateful night. Lies and deception run deep within his circle of friends, including his bodyguard Vince (played by Xu Razer), who tries to help him unravel the event that put him in this dilemma but instead leads him into further confusion. Music by Gothic industrial artist Jeremiah Saint.


Today let’s talk about standardized measurements. Don’t worry, I’m going somewhere with this. Have you ever sat in a chair and just knew that it was a little short? Have you ever been at a counter that was too tall, or walked a set of stairs that felt a little too steep? That’s because you’re used to standardized measurements and when something doesn’t measure up to those standards then you just know it. You can feel it, as if an old friend isn’t feeling well. Alright, maybe not like that, but these are conventions that we usually never actually notice until something doesn’t conform to them. In movies there’s a long history of conventions used, they may not be as specific as a seven and three quarters riser height but they’re just as important.

Next time you’re watching a night scene in a movie check to see if everything is bathed in a cool blue light. It’s not used every time but as an audience we accept blue light as night. Night isn’t blue. Check for yourself tonight, it’s dark but isn’t blue by itself. Even moonlight is usually white or maybe a little yellow. There are other conventions or rules and they all serve to help the audience understand what’s going on, where it’s happening and who’s involved and if they’re used right then the audience will never notice. If they’re not used at all then we just end up with a car wreck of a movie.

Max has found success in signing numerous dark metal and gothic industrial musicians and bands to lucrative contracts but when he wakes with no memory to a phone call from a disgruntled artist he has to piece together his shattered recollection. Aside from one murder which isn’t actually shown on camera be prepared for little else to happen. “House of Mirrors” breaks one of the cardinal movie rules of show-don’t-tell with wanton abandon. The dialogue will spoon feed you plot (which has more holes than Albert Hall) and exposition (that gets saved until the end) like mashed up peas and carrots until it dribbles down your chin and makes a mess of your cartoon bib. This story could have been told better through a series of polaroids.

Shooting a scene out of focus or coming into focus is a common convention that’s often used to signify confusion, chaos or coming into understanding and can be quiet effective when used judiciously. “House of Mirrors” abuses the focus ring on its camera to such an extent that it becomes obvious when it’s intentionally overused and then unintentionally allowed to be used. So much of the film is poorly focused that I had to check that I wasn’t drunk while watching it (I wasn’t this time.) The sound levels were often disturbingly off. The same scene would switch between sounding decent to being recorded in a parking garage.

It’s common for two actors in a scene to be shot together where you can see one person’s face and the other is just in the side of screen. This tells you that they’re together in the same room and helps to indicate where in the room they are. This convention was nearly ignored completely as no two actors shared the screen together. The framing was so tight that it quickly became difficult to tell who was in a scene together, where they were and if they were actually talking to each other as if they shot each person in different cities and tried to edit them into the scene together.

There’s no need to get into all the details of how bad the acting was or how hackneyed the script since “House of Mirrors” ignored all conventions it broke any possibility of retaining a suspension of disbelief to actually be concerned with them. You know you’re in serious trouble when the best part of the movie is the opening credits and the criminally insane goth rocker antagonist is about as threatening as a warm breeze.

House of Mirrors (2012)


  1. Brian Shotwell

    It’s clear this review is just a blatant attack on independent film in general. The film had a “zero” budget. Not sure if this reviewer “Sean Becktel” knows what that means. It means you have to do everything yourself. It’s called “independent” Sean.
    I wonder if Sean has ever participated in a film production or had the balls to make a film himself? Probably not. But it’s clear your mission in life is to be disappointed. Or to trash on other people who accomplish things because…..you work in a bar. Wow….impressive buddy.
    I think Sean is one of those pathetic “Americans” who needs to be “spoon” fed high production value films so he doesn’t get freaked out when things just don’t “seem right.”
    Sean, if something doesn’t “seem right” to you then it’s clear you still don’t understand what and “independent film” is. Most people know that they’re watching an independent film and understand what that means. One that is made “outside” the studio system generally means it was made by dedicated people with little or no resources unlike a typical high budget Hollywood film.
    Most of the films Sean has been watching that “seem right” had a budget and a crew of over 500 people. HOUSE OF MIRRORS was made by just two people. Try that Sean….I dare you. Why don’t you write, direct, produce and star in a film and send it to me. I’ll give you an “honest” review too.
    It’s no surprise that most of your film reviews are “negative.” It’s usually a reflection on a persons own sad life when they can never find something good to say about anything.
    You seem to know everything there is to know about filmmaking. Maybe you should channel this negativity into a making the best horror movie of your own so you can leave your job at the bar and maybe become someone important enough that people might actually “read” your reviews.
    I really think you need a break from the internet. Maybe it’s time for you to disconnect your “Electronic Dog Collar” and go get some f*cking air.

  2. AceofTrades13

    Dear Angry Comment Guy,
    Ad hominem attacks do not make a strong argument. Realize that the first paragraph of you critique of this review was entirely composed of these attacks. The second paragraph is bigoted and offensive, so go you?
    As for most of his reviews being negative, I tend to agree with him, he calls sh*t when he sees it. The horror genre is flooded with generally crappy movies…which I personally like, however, some things are just terrible. Movies that ignore general film making principals for the sake of being artsy, and then defend their actions by calling it indy are the reasons the types of “Americans” you are attacking exist.
    Finally, have you ever written a film review? If not I “dare” you to do it. Can you make c**ktails for a bar full of drunks? Id not I “dare” you to do it.

  3. Sorry Ace of Trades but I have to agree with the filmmaker. It does not take any experience to serve a drink. Making films is an incredible undertaking and based on the other reviews by this guy Sean, he lacks the ability to review a film in proper detail. A good review focuses its energy on finding a films strong point as well as pointing out it’s weaknesses. I have grown bored of this site because of the poor reviews. I’ve seen films reviewed badly on this site that were actually pretty good. Reviews in general suck. It’s a one sided point of view. I’d like to see other people review the same film. I’m sure you would have very different thoughts. The guy who wrote this review appears to be frustrated with every film he reviews. Maybe he should review comedies. But then again who even comes to this site. I think House of Mirrors sounds kind of cool. I respect independent filmmakers and the work they put into making a film.

    • “But then again who even comes to this site” – you do, plus thousands of others each day. So why attack the site, because 1 person didnt like your film? Out of the 40 films a month we’re sent, we get time to watch about 3 ourselves. The comments section is also for reviews, so maybe a few of your friends should watch it and review it? I did a check an it appears that we’re the only site who has reviewed this film so far… (what does that say??)

      Your comment makes no sense……you said, House of Mirrors “sounds kinda cool”. Ok if you didnt watch it maybe you should first before sounding off?
      If you actually read the reviews, I’d say there’s way more positive than negative, but then again, that’s not the agenda….giving an honest perspective of a film is. (as any real review site should be) In any case, from the tone of your reply, you are obviously related to the film production itself which would make this comment bias to begin with, good try, but your not the first.


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