Former New York City detective Ben Carson (Keifer Sutherland) takes a job as a nighttime security guard at the burned-out remnants of a once glittering and popular department store. Inside the still sparkling mirrors all around the locale, he discovers a murderous secret that has turned its bloody eye toward his family, including his estranged wife Amy (Paula Patton) and their two small children.
As a follow-up to his surprisingly scary and strong remake of The Hills Have Eyes, director Alexandre Aja’s Mirrors is an odd little horror-thriller that despite plenty of strong moments ends up being more than a wee bit unsatisfying. Working once more with his writing partner Grégory Levasseur and based on the Korean epic Into the Mirror, the movie is weird mish-mash of stupidity and eeriness, fantastically unsettling moments of extreme terror uncomfortably juxtaposed with scenes of such extreme idiocy the two end up canceling one another out.
When the film works, though, it does so quite beautifully. Horror fans will undoubtedly be more than pleased, a signature sequence with Amy Smart in a bathtub about so gruesomely unsettling it had my stomach doing a whole cadre of frantically tense cartwheels. There’s also an outstanding early bit revolving around fingerprints inside the department store where Ben first starts to suspect something odd is going on, the unnerving tension of the investigation nicely building to a satisfying early coda hinting at potential future scares.
But the story itself continually shoots the pictures square in the foot. The people here just don’t act dumb, you get the feeling as things go along and they continue to make bad decision after bad decision that they really are dumb. The level of stupidity on display is almost beyond compare, the climactic act a particularly idiotic sequence of ludicrous choices and events that were so stupendously awful they almost had me laughing out loud.
The depressing part of all this is that the film shows a major progression in Aja’s growth as a filmmaker in many ways. While the picture is graphic (the man hasn’t met a gore effect he hasn’t fallen head over heels in love with), it doesn’t drown itself in blood like his previous horror epics have done. In fact, it is almost as if the director is going out of his way to show restraint this time around, Aja using Maxime Alexandre’s (P2) luminous cinematography almost as if it were an additional character.
Unfortunately, none of the plusses add up into anything remotely worthwhile. The climax lays a concrete egg the size of Manhattan, that deafening thud the sound of common sense and rational intelligence fleeing as if their very lives depended upon doing so.
I must admit, the very last scene is fairly affective. It’s not good enough to make watching Mirrors worthwhile, but it is strong enough to deserve some kudos. Other than that and a couple of other sequences that admittedly sent chills up my spine, however, the minuses rule here, the only aftertaste worth talking about the grotesque fickle one that made me wish I could wash my mouth out with soap.
Mirrors, both rated and unrated versions, is presented in 1080p 2.40:1 Widescreen and it looks great. This is a solid transfer from Fox showing off Alexandre’s ghostly cinematography beautifully.
Available audio tracks include English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish Dolby 5.1 and French Dolby 5.1 with optional English, Cantonese, French, Korean and Spanish subtitles.
There are a lot of extras here, and while they're not terribly amazing they're still pretty darn solid all the same. They are:
"Reflections: The Making of Mirrors" featurette - Standard behind-the-scenes piece. As these things go, it's relatively decent.
Anna Esseker Hospital Footage - More scenes of the movie's mysterious nun undergoing her, um, therapy.
"Behind the Mirror" featurette - Another standard epk short, this time about the world on the other side of the looking glass.
Animated Storyboard Sequence - For some reason, I always find these storyboard to screen features kind of interesting. Seeing as they keep adding them as DVD extras I must not be the only one.
Deleted Scenes with Optional Director's Commentary - Nothing of note, all of these easy to see why they were excised from the finished film.
Alternate Ending with Optional Director's Commentary - It's a good thing this was cut as the one they decided to go with is far - and I mean FAR - superior.
R-rated and Unrated Versions of the Feature Film - What's the difference between the two? I have no idea, the time difference between the two cuts virtually negligible.
BONUSVIEW: Picture-in-Picture Commentary by Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur, Storyboard-to-Screen Comparison - I tried to watch and listen to this but after about thirty minutes the pair's commentary started to bore me silly and I lost interest. It's defintiely not as good as it could have been, that's for sure.
Bonus Disc Digital Copy of the Film - I do not understand this trend at ALL. In fact, it annoys me. Seriously, who wants to watch a film on their iPod screen? Not me, that's for sure.
Mirrors is less than the sum of its parts, a gorgeously photographed and constructed horror-thriller undone by stupid, almost indefensibly dumb script brutally undercutting everything about it that works.