Netflix’s ‘The Girl In The Mirror’ (“Alma”) Wastes An Intriguing Premise


It’s honestly quite impressive. After an engrossing and intriguing opening sequence in its first episode – in which a bus full of teenage schoolchildren encounters mysterious events in an all-too-suddenly appearing fog as it descends a mountain in the beautiful countryside of northern Spain – Netflix quality The girl in the mirror (Alma in its original Spanish), tumbles down a slope faster and more dramatically than (spoiler, but not really) the aforementioned bus. It’s a visceral and shocking opening, steeped in what feels like the beginnings of a fascinating mystery. Unfortunately supernatural thriller The girl in the mirror quickly squanders that potential, getting progressively worse with each passing episode and making you wish it all ended somehow. By the time I got to its ninth and final episode, I couldn’t help but moan and my eyes rolled in their sockets at the levels of incompetence on display. If it hadn’t been for the incredibly green, Atlantic views of Asturias on display everywhere, I would have stopped long before. It’s not quite the drop in quality seen in the last few days of game of thronesbut it reminded me of it – well done guys!

It’s really a shame, because the series has a certain pedigree. The girl in the mirror was created by Sergio Gutiérrez Sánchez. Sanchez wrote 2007 The Orfanato (The orphanage), which was an effective and well-made gothic horror film and, as Sánchez’s first film, served as a promising sign of his screenwriting abilities. This series is a shocking repudiation of that promise, as most of its problems stem from the page. The direction is often odd – with many of its actors seemingly tasked with delivering their lines in a way that I suppose is meant to be disturbing but only comes across as wood and unconvincing – but if the writing was at height, it might be easy to overlook. The script turns out to be a complete mess. I don’t know if it’s the long format TV show that tripped up Sánchez and his co-writers Teresa de Rosendo and Paul Pen, but the issues here are so fundamental that I don’t even know where to begin. when addressing them. The characters are ill-defined and uninteresting, their motivations often confused and unclear. The bare minimum for my investment in any story is that I have to care about the characters at their core. Here, other than a few times with just two (2) people, I just didn’t care.

It’s hard to overcome bad characters in a script, but not impossible. If you pack enough mystery or action into the thing, you can sometimes get away with it. Alas, The girl in the mirror gropes that too, unceremoniously confusing a story that features ancient prophecies, demons, witches, and amnesia, while stripping each of those things of all power. Amnesia, for God’s sake! Amnesia! Such a great and fun device. How dare you make a flirt out of it, man? To be quite honest, I myself feel like I have suffered from some form of memory loss, as I am now trying to remember the tangle of inconsistent, confusing, often just-lame the mythology the show attempted to generate only results in a fog as thick as the one that opened it. The problem with mythology is that it can be confusing in a good way. While I was having trouble with its ending, Dark was an example of a confusing plot that seemed confusing on purpose: it was up to you to work harder to figure it out, and if you didn’t, it was your fault, because all the logic was there (or least it felt like it, which is often good enough!). As a result, the confusion made you want to watch more. In The girl in the mirror it just made me see the cracks in the foundation of the story. In the end, the show had the temerity to not even end with a conclusion, but instead teasing a potential second season.

Three Paragraphs is probably the shortest review I’ve ever written for anything, but this show has already robbed me of over eight hours of my life, and I refuse to give it any more.

Petr is a staff contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.

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