Today's post comes from guest writer Charles Poladian, a reviewer for TheMusic.FM and an avid horror fan. He brings us a write-up on Mirrors, the latest Korean remake from Alexandre Aja, just out on DVD and Blu-Ray...
Mirrors, adapted from the Korean film Into the Mirror, and directed by Alexandre Aja, stars Kiefer Sutherland as Ben Carson, a former detective who quit after a traumatic shooting death on the job. Losing his family, income and livelihood, Ben is out on the couch staying with his sister, Angela Carson (played by Amy Smart.)
When Ben decides to start the rebuilding process, he gets a job as the night watchman for the abandoned Mayflower Department store. The place burned down tragically and is left to ruin due to insurance battles. Of course, for Ben, things become strange. There are glimpses of burnt victims and flailing limbs. Ben’s last straw comes when he sees himself on fire, feels it, but suffers no damage.
Through detective work, Ben soon gets to the bottom of all the strangeness. As Ben gets closer to these occurrences, his family and his life are soon in jeopardy. The movie races towards this conclusion, as it is only a matter of time until everyone he loves dies.
What Mirrors, and Aja, do best is create a claustrophobic atmosphere. It’s a clever spin, to use something as ever-present as mirrors to do the evil bidding. The effects and killing scenes are also worth mentioning. The opening scene ends with the mirror personality slicing through the throat of the victim, exposing the windpipe in the process, with a shard of glass from the broken mirror. It’s unflinching and what Aja is known for, from the scenes in High Tension to The Hills Have Eyes. The camera does not shy away and the viewer is meant to watch; as helpless as the victim. The department store, as a setting, is a fun horror house and leads to many creepy moments.
Unfortunately this fun premise and Aja’s skills as a director get lost in a mediocre second half. It becomes formulaic, essentially watching the main character trying to solve and resolve before it’s too late. The movie is pretty tightly paced, but has weaker transitions due to this tempo. And to top it off, there is a twist ending.
The movie could have been stuck in neutral yet still be an enjoyable watch without this ending. It’s superfluous and leaves a bad taste in your mouth, which is the main reason Mirrors falls flat. It becomes absorbed in the trappings of modern horror movies. It must be a cultural divide as well, because these remakes tend to not live up to the hype. The Grudge was mediocre as a ghost story, although The Ring still stands as the best of the bunch.
Alexandre Aja knows how to work a story and knows how to work a remake. Unfortunately, Mirrors does not succeed like his previous two outings. It could be a fun time if you catch it with the right people, but for the aficionados it may be lacking. It’s a minor step back, but Aja still has a flair for horror. His next movie is Pirahnas 3-D, which could be an awesome time at the movies.
Last line for this is rent it if you want, don’t buy. There are no features aside from trailers and the choice between theatrical and unrated.
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