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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Will You Like What You See in Mirrors?

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.


Alana Noel Voth said...

B-Sol, thank yu for bringing us Charles' review of Mirrors.

Charles, nice write up. :-)


Christopher Zenga said...

This movies second half was a disaster!

It had some creepy moments, when the mom sees her son sitting reflection in the mirror even though he has gotten up and walked away, and then his reflection grins......GOLD! but not enough individual moments of creepyness could save this this film.



the Anna Essacer angle was pointless, the ghosts in the mirrors could have been the victims of the fire and were hell bent on revenge, done, simple, pissed off ghosts.

Essacer should have been the answer to the puzzle written backwards like "help us "
this was a classic ghost movie, creepy setting, great gore with lots of potential that just lost focus and tanked in the end.

but what do I know, Fingers crossed for the unborn.

Later days,

Christopher Zenga

Charles said...

Thanks Alana for the kind words.

Hey Chris,

I totally agree with you! It just fell flat. The whole Esseker thing, it was kind of weak indeed.

SPOILER ALERT (I'm following your lead)

Ok, she's a woman of God now, a nun at a monastery and she knows that her past is directly linked to dozens of deaths. But what does she do? Nothing! And when she can act like a catalyst to end it, she hesitates. It seemed like a whole logical flaw.

gord said...

B-sol, this reminds me that I think you've missed another film to add to your 'surprisingly good remakes', list, The Hills Have Eyes.

I honestly, thought it was far better than the original, and I went into it expecting to hate it (it is a remake after all, and I hated High Tension).

B-Sol said...

Yes, I've already gone on record about my love for the remake of The Hills Have Eyes. I also found it better than the original. And the same director as Mirrors, too bad it sounds like it's not of the same caliber.

Wes Fierce said...

That was a very light hearted review. I, on the other hand, ripped this movie a new asshole. Some red flags should be going up when the plot of a horror movie is based on one of the genre's biggest cliche's. For those who missed it, here's an excerpt from Scott Sigler's pre-view of the movie:

"1. Buy rights to successful, innovative Asian horror flick

2. Have someone "Americanize" the script, because we're so stupid we couldn't possibly understand it the way it was told the first time (you know, when it was both successful and innovative)

3. Have said script rewritten by a team of interns and the producer's half-brother so that it has zero continuity

4. Insert a TV star as your lead actor/actress

5. Make a movie poster with a spooky face

6. Laugh all the way to the bank, because we're so stupid (see Step 2) that we'll probably go see it anyway"

Alana Noel Voth said...

Hey Charles and B-Sol,

So "Mirrors" showed up in our mailbox yesterday from Netflix. The kid and I watched it last night while eating pistachio nuts.

In my son's own words, "This is the worst ending I ever saw."

Sure, a few creepy moments, but the whole nun thing, and gees, why not make essecor spell something backwards that you can read in the mirror! (My son's idea.)

Also, while Keifer holds a spot in my heart, he wasn't at his best here. Oh well.


B-Sol said...

Thanks for the mini review, A!!

GFS3 said...

That bathtub shot is damn creepy.

Anonymous said...


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