Since Alexandre Aja’s HAUTE TENSION arrived in 2003, the French writer-director has been in the horror spotlight with every gore hound watching his every move. Many think of him as the savior of horror, although he continues to prove to us otherwise. Even though his last feature, THE HILLS HAVE EYES, was a disappointment, it still showed the director’s potential – MIRRORS on the other hand, has taken an even further step back.
Kiefier Sutherland plays Ben Carson, a down-and-out ex-detective who turned to alcohol after accidently killing a fellow cop. After hitting rock bottom, he’s determined to get back on his feet and lands a night security job for an old high-end department store, which burned down five years earlier. He learns that he has replaced another guard, who recently committed suicide, nothing adds up. The mirrors seem to have a life of their own, and they eventually pull Carson back into the role of a detective as he tries to uncover the mysteries of the mirrors before he loses his family to the demons inside.
Written by Aja and Grégory Levasseur, one of the main flaws is the fact that the film is a remake of an Asian horror film by the name of INTO THE MIRROR. Aja attempts to take a slow-burning ghost story and turn it into one of his over-the-top gorefests and loses the essence of the story in his endeavors. What should have been a film in the vein of THE RING, MIRRORS is more like HAUTE TENSION or HILLS than anything else. Ironic as it may sound, the best parts of the film are when Aja returns to his roots and hits the audience with onscreen brutality, which is so much more effective than the cliché “jump scares” that plague the entire film.
If MIRRORS is a reflection of Aja’s abilities, it’s almost as if he’s a beast locked in a cage called 20th Century Fox. It’s impossible to this reviewer that Aja and his partner Levasseur wrote some of the horrendous dialogue that ensues. Such lines as “Watch out for the water, it has your reflection in it,” “I should have believed you,” and “Don’t make me threaten you!” are so ridiculously placed that they had to be inserted by the studio for the “stupid audience members.” The exposition is so incredibly heavy – most of it unnecessary – that it’s tough to make it through the whopping 110 minute saga without checking your watch a few times. But within these (useless) drawn out scenes, Aja finds his soul and attacks the audience with some of the most memorable death scenes in years (just wait until you see the full jaw-rip sequence). With the help of KNB, the practical FX are beautiful, only uncharacteristic of Aja, the parade is rained upon by horrid CGI.
Furthermore, there’s this feeling throughout the movie that nobody involved knew what they were doing. It was almost as if the film was being re-written as it was being shot. The plot just evolves in typical fashion, while the rules seem to be completely thrown out the window. It’s 100% unclear if you have to be in front of the mirror to die, how the mirror can haunt other people (in other houses nonetheless) and more. Even Sutherland’s acting shows that something was “off” during the shoot.
The one thing that stands out more than anything else in MIRRORS is Kiefier Sutherland, who puts on one of his worst performances ever. He must have been shooting this movie in between episodes of “24” because Jack Bauer makes more than one appearance. Fox could literally recut MIRRORS, add the ticking clock between scenes and call it “24: The Exorcism” and have the first feature film in theaters this Friday. Sutherland is seriously horrid in this film and it’s hard to know whether he or Aja should be blamed. It’s unclear why he’s so “angry,” but Sutherland literally screams through every scene. What was learned is that if you yell at someone loud enough, you will eventually get your way. Watching Sutherland act was like watching a 3-year-old scream for more ice cream. His rants range from ending scenes with “shit,” to yelling at nun while pointing a gun at her, “You’re coming with me, NOW!” He moans, yells, screams, punches steering wheels and shoots the mirrors. One sequence that will forever been embedded as a classic in bad cinema is when Sutherland exclaims, “I need to take care of something,” and proceeds to beat the living crap out of the giant mirror at the department store. He throws chairs at it, punches it, screams at it and eventually shoots it – it’s laughably bad.
When it is all said and done, MIRRORS feels like a crappy movie filled with things Aja thinks are “cool” – and knows the audience will think is cool. One of the most random things that popped out was that some of the score by Javier Navarrete was directly lifted from John Carpenter’s IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS and Christopher Nolan’s THE DARK KNIGHT. No joke, the end of the movie carries the exact same theme as when BATMAN exclaims “I’m whatever Gotham needs me to be,” with Sutherland (minor spoilers follow) walking out of the ashes of his battle to put the final pieces together in a ultra lame epilogue. (end spoilers)
Overall, MIRRORS felt like a director’s cut as it was loaded with useless dialogue, pointless scenarios and random scenes that had no business in the finished version of the film. Clocking in at 110 minutes, there is no excuse for not tightening this b*tch up.
The shocking truth of it all is that, after sorting through all of this garbage, MIRRORS is still kind of entertaining. I don’t know if it was the barrage of gore scenes, or the fun in watching Sutherland make an ass of himself, but something in there was appealing.
Before wasting any money on this remake at theaters, you should probably reflect on it a bit…
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