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Mirrors Review – Kiefer Sutherland Channels Jack Bauer, Alexandre Aja Lets the Blood Flow Liberally

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Once upon a time Barbra Streisand taught the world that The Mirror Has Two Faces . Unfortunately, however, she didn’t teach the world what to do when one of those faces turns out to be evil and murderous. If she had, she would have saved the characters in Mirrors a lot of time and heartache, but then I suppose that would take all the fun out of writer/director Alexandre Aja’s latest effort.

Kiefer Sutherland is Ben Carson, a recovering alcoholic ex-detective who takes a job as a security guard at a burnt-out and abandoned department store in order to get back on his feet. Before Ben has even finished his first shift patrolling the charred insides of the massive Mayflower building, he has some eerie encounters with the countless mirrors stationed throughout the store: Handprints appear and disappear on the otherwise spotless glass, doors open and close on their own, and things are just plain hinky.

Ben has been staying with his sister Angela (Amy Smart) while he tries to patch up his marriage, and the hinkiness follows him home to Angela’s apartment. Ben’s reflection in the bathroom mirror is oddly distorted — or is it all in his mind? Is it a hallucination brought on by the prescription pills he’s been taking, or is it something eeeevil? Duh, it’s evil… and Ben needs to figure out what’s going on before it’s too late and he loses his wife and children (not to mention himself) to the horrible forces lurking within the mirrors.

I’m just gonna say it: The first third of Mirrors kicks all
sorts of ass.

Aja starts the film with a bloody jolt in a subway
station, and when the action shifts to the hulking Mayflower department
store he ratchets up the tension to some incredibly frightening levels.
When Ben explores the store with his flashlights, Mirrors
becomes a superlative haunted house movie. Scorched and half-melted
mannequins stand everywhere, silently watching as Ben investigates dark
corners and looks for whoever it is that’s screaming somewhere in the
dark. After a few nights of hallucinations, ghosts, and mirrors playing
mind games, Ben says what the audience has been thinking: “F— this
place.” In real life I would’ve spent about five minutes in the
Mayflower before I busted out that line and hightailed it out of there;
unfortunately in the film, the line marks the turning point where Mirrors begins to lose steam.

The
scary-as-hell haunted house movie becomes a serviceable (if
predictable) family-in-peril thriller as Ben tries to piece together
the mysteries of the Mayflower in order to save his family from the
corrupting influence of the mirrors. Once the secrets of the store
began to come to light, and it became obvious that its history is more
sinister than price gouging and unpaid overtime, I thought to myself
“Wow, this film sure does fit in the pattern established in most Asian
horror films!” In other words: Scary stuff happens, hero gets all
Sherlock Holmes and starts to figure out why scary stuff happens, the
mystery gets solved and maybe there’s a twist. So imagine my surprise
(or, I suppose, lack thereof) when the credits rolled and I learned
that Mirrors is a remake of the 2003 Korean film Into the Mirror.
I went into this film completely blind and picked up on the familiar
formula right away; if that’s a formula you dig, there’s no reason
you’re not going to like Mirrors. Alexandre Aja puts enough of his own style in it to make it the strongest Asian remake I’ve seen since The Ring .

Aja’s style, as anyone who’s seen High Tension or his remake of The Hills Have Eyes
can tell you, is bloody, violent, and exciting — and he doesn’t skimp
here. The red stuff flows liberally from the opening scene until the
overblown finale, a sensory overload that’s a bit like the climatic
shootout scene from The Lady of Shanghai done up Grand Guignol style. Mirrors
doesn’t change the opinion I held of Aja before I went into the
screening — that he’s one of the most promising voices in modern
horror.

The film does have its weak spots — the main culprit
being that it felt overlong. But the acting throughout is serviceable;
the kids never get too precious, and Kiefer Sutherland channels his
work as anti-terrorist agent Jack Bauer on 24 as he threatens mirrors, nuns, and everything and everyone in between with firearms and yelling.

Today
I’m thankful for a few  things: I went to see a horror movie and it
turned out to be pretty good, I’m still an Alexandre Aja fan… and the
only thing my mirror is telling me to do is brush my hair.

sp.jpgA fan of horror movies and scary stuff, Stacie Ponder started her blog Final Girl so she’d have a platform from which she could tell everyone that, say, Friday the 13th, Part 2 rules. She leads a glamorous life, walking on the razor’s edge of danger and intrigue.

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