So once again we have survived.

Mirrors

tn_mirrorsSo we got this French director Alexandre Aja who I think of as one of the good ones, but to tell you the truth he’s more potential than actual achievement at this point. When I read that he wanted to do WOLVERINE, or when I thought about they could’ve hired him for CONAN or FRIDAY THE 13TH instead of Marcus Nispel, I imagine these great movies I think he could’ve made. But this is just based on the chops he showed in HIGH TENSION before the stupid twist derailed the whole thing, and on how much I like his HILLS HAVE EYES remake. But even that has that scene where the “Big Brain” character makes a big speech explaining everything, which makes me cringe every time I think about it.

So I figured if I was gonna be talking this guy up I should see his other two movies and find out if he’s the real deal. His first one is a low budget French sci-fi type deal called FURIA. But here is his latest, MIRRORS, starring Kiefer Sutherland.

mp_mirrorsThis one’s a very different type of horror for him, a supernatural deal. It’s a remake of a Korean movie called INTO THE MIRROR but what it really reminded me of alot was Stephen King. Troubled guy, recovering alcoholic, estranged from his wife, dealing with evil inanimate objects. He’s not a writer though and there are no ’50s pop songs used in a spooky context.

Sutherland’s character was a New York cop who was involved in a fatal shooting incident that really messed him up, then he became an alcoholic and got suspended from the force and kicked out by his wife. Now he’s living with his younger sister (Amy Smart) and has a shitty new job as the night security guard at the remains of a Macy’s type department store that was gutted by a fire but is stuck in some kind of legal limbo where they haven’t been able to tear it down yet. Also apparently they have not been able to remove the spooky mannequins. Fuckin red tape.

It’s not about scary mannequins though, it’s about scary (***!!!***SPOILER***!!!***) mirrors. We know, but he doesn’t, that the last guy with his job had his throat slit by his reflection in the mirror. What I’m trying to tell you is that there’s something evil about the huge mirrors inside the store. He starts to notice weird things, reflections not matching up with reality or horrifying images. Also he keeps exploring this spooky burnt out store, it gets flooded, etc. So even if he immediately knew it was some supernatural mirrors of evil, he would have every reason to believe that the whole joint was haunted as a motherfucker and the evil mirrors are only the tip of the iceberg. Luckily, no, it’s just mirrors. The mannequins don’t bite him, the hangers don’t poke him, there is not an escalator attack. Just mirrors. That is why it is called (SPOILER AGAIN, TURN BACK NOW) MIRRORS.

He soon figures out that the mirror (the reflection in the mirror?) is trying to tell him something, so it becomes a mystery story. He uses his old police connections to chase down any leads he gets. He looks at a body in the morgue, looks through files and newspaper archives, interviews witnesses, the whole deal. Seems like a worthwhile daytime hobby for a former detective turned night time security guard/time waster, but the problem is he’s trying to turn his life around. Right when he’s making an effort to convince his wife that he’s stable enough to be around the kids again he also freaks out and starts taking or painting over all the reflective surfaces in the house. I like that scene because the maid and the kids are scared because he’s acting weird, not because he’s a physical threat or something. Although come to think of it he does pull out a gun and shoot at a mirror on the front lawn. So never mind, don’t have this guy around kids ever. The evil mirrors are fuckin him up. But everybody assumes it is either the alcoholism, the pills or the horrible trauma and stress. Nobody guesses it’s because of evil mirrors.

I think I can understand why this got some really harsh reviews. It’s a ludicrous premise and it is your responsibility as a viewer to just say “fuck it” and run with it like Kiefer does. Many people are not prepared to take on that kind of responsibility. They are afraid of commitment, but Kiefer is not. I wouldn’t say he’s as good as Kevin Bacon in DEATH SENTENCE, but it’s a similar kind of un-self-conscious dedication to material that most people would turn their noses up to. But fuck those people.

At times I got some chuckles from him going through every page of the dramatic actor playbook: dropping to the ground and crying, exploding into angry cursing, throwing things, busting off angry shots with his gun, you name it. He very seriously says some pretty silly lines like something about, “The water is dangerous, it has a reflection!” But I don’t know man, I kind of dug that about it. I hate when movies have a silly premise and they get embarrassed and have to have the characters constantly point out that it’s silly. “Ha ha, isn’t the premise of NATIONAL TREASURE stupid, ha ha, what a dumb movie you are watching, you are a moron fuck you, thanks for the money though asswipe, signed, NATIONAL TREASURE.” MIRRORS doesn’t pull that shit. It doesn’t worry about you laughing at it and doesn’t insult you if you don’t.

I gotta say though, late in the game when his wife sees with her own eyes that the mirror is supernatural, and she tells him that she should’ve believed him all along – no, she shouldn’t have. Yeah, I get it, you’re showing that you still love him and should believe in him, but still. You should not have believed him when he told you that the mirror in a burnt out department store is somehow haunted because of an incident with a possessed girl from a mental hospital that used to be in the same location and now it’s reaching out through other reflective surfaces in order to harm his loved ones if it thinks they might interfere with his search for the truth. I don’t think you should feel bad about not believing that one, lady. You can still love him and not buy that.

The one part I had already heard about was an extra gruesome death scene. That’s the Aja magic, a little treat for the horror fans not into it up to that point. So far in his career Aja doesn’t do PG-13 horror, which is interesting because this type of horror can sometimes get away with it. These days it’s surprising that a studio didn’t force him to cut it. But I’m glad they didn’t because the horrible fucked up thing that happens makes the silly mirror threat a little more menacing.

Overall this is a pretty solid little horror movie, made better by a great TWILIGHT ZONE type ending and an old fashioned score. I don’t really think it’s all that scary, and sometimes the musical stings when the reflections did something different from the reality seemed like way too much, maybe it would’ve been better if there was no music in those particular parts. But I enjoyed it, it was pretty decent. Doesn’t put Aja in the visionary category, but supports my theory that he’s a reliable director.

Still, there are some missed opportunities I gotta point out. It does deal with the threat of rear-view mirrors (the emphasis on the “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear” disclaimer confused me – does this mean the evil is closer than it appears? I’m not sure the significance), but it doesn’t really get into all of the other types of mirrors. What about security mirrors in a 7-11? Mirrored sunglasses? Disco balls? The T-1000? The Silver Surfer? Kiefer never runs through a mirror maze like in ENTER THE DRAGON or TANGO & CASH. Hopefully they’re saving those things for MIRRORSES.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009 at 12:48 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

24 Responses to “Mirrors”

  1. You bastard! now i sort of want to see this …..

  2. The original movie had a Italian Horror movie vibe. I have not seen this one (i´m kinda tired of American remakes of asian movies).

  3. Vincent – Aja is French, I think, so this remake gets a pass. *smiles*

    Vern – I haven’t seen this one yet but I’m totally on board with your assessments on High Tension and Hills Have Eyes. Although I’m sure he’ll do a good job with the Piranha remake I wont be seeing that at all. I have a terrible fish with teeth phobia. (I can handle sharks for some reason though) and since it’s gonna be in 3D…fucking forget about it. My worst nightmares have me being attacked by flying piranhii. (I did manage to see Piranha 2: The Spawning)

  4. Vern (again) – Since you seem to be on somewhat of a horror kick with the Mirrors, Friday The 13, and I believe someone mentioned the Evil Dead trilogy (if I imagined that you should consider it) You may want to check out Midnight Meat Train if you haven’t already.

    I also wanted to suggest the August Underground movies. They kind of suck as movies but the effects are AMAZING. I also think that they’re important movies when it comes to the whole “torture porn” discussion which, for the record, I hate that term but in August Undergrond’s case it’s tough to defend against.

    Since I’m throwing horror movies out there, I might also suggest Cemetary Man just because it’s awesome.

  5. This is the single best review this movie has ever recieved. I second Midnight Meat Train, or how about the Host? Vern menioned having seen it in his Diary of the Dead review but he never reviewed it. This is a great wrong to our society.

  6. Did I not review Midnight Meat Train? I thought I did. I thought it was pretty good, although not great. My favorite part was Rampage Jackson or whichever UFC guy that was as a Guardian Angel who says “BOO!” to him on the subway, then calls him Forrest Gump.

  7. I liked Mirrors. Good review, Vern.

  8. I liked Midnight Meat Train quite a bit if for nothing else than Vinnie Jones scares the fuck out of me as it is, then to go the extra step of making him the antagonist of a horror movie work wonders for me.

    I also thought the ending was a perfect set-up for a prequel. Prequels usually don’t work, but in this case I think if done right, it could be better than the original.

    I’d ask what kept it from being great instead of good to you, but if you’re gonna review it, I’ll be patient.

    Personally, I thought it was a pretty damned fine horror movie. I also have a hard on for Ryuhei Kitamura’s movies, but still, I don’t see what more you could have asked for in a movie like this.

    The only things I could see would be if you’re one of those who hate all CGI in horror movies (which you’re not (or you don’t seem to be (although the CGI is pretty obvious in this, so I’ll give you that))) or for some, the ending was a problem (could be, but the ending is why I wanted to see more)

    It was one of those “down the rabbit hole” movies where it seems pretty straight forward at first to get you hooked and takes a strange turn. It wasn’t quite like High Tension though because it didn’t feel like a twist, but more like I walked into a world that I shouldn’t have found out about.

    I also like how Vinnie Jones has these tumors that he cuts off, but they never bother to explain what they are. It may seem lazy, but I like shit like that.

    Also the scene when he hits the first chick with that hammer thing and her head just turns to the side was neat, as was the decapitation-head-rolling-camera-zooming-out-of-the-eye bit, and the eye-ball hitting the camera lense right before that was pretty sweet. (Come to think of it, that was Ivan Raimi’s eye hitting the camera. I wonder if that’s where they got the idea to have the fly walk on the camera in Drag Me To Hell?)

    The meat locker scene was a bit unbelievable though. There’s no way that guy could have known when to lift his feet off the ground and when to put them back down but as I’m watching it, I’m in the moment so I just kind of let that go.

    I’m just rambling now so I guess I’ll wrap this up by repeating… Cemetary Man is awesome.

  9. I dunno, Vern. This one knocked me off the Aja bandwagon, and unless he makes some kind of masterpiece next time around I think I’m going to stay off his bandwagon. He can come up with some good shots and bloody set pieces, but I get the impression from his movies that he’s kind of an asshole with nothing really interesting to do or say via the medium of cool-looking splatter. High Tension’s ending seems to suggest that lesbians are really overalls-wearing, serial-killing, blowjob-from-severed-head-getting old men inside, and his attempts at sociopolitical commentary in the Hills remake are jejune and insulting. Mirrors doesn’t really say anything, but the way it indulges in the same kind of gore as his previous movies, however nasty that bit with Amy Smart* in the bathroom might be, suggests that he can’t do anything else, and it’s getting kind of tedious, and is especially tedious in Mirrors because the story surrounding it is so uninvolving.

    *Speaking of Amy Smart doing crazy shit, I know you didn’t like CRANK PART 1, but CRANK PART 2 is one of the craziest fucking movies I’ve ever seen, and I’d really like to see you take a look at it. Not all of it works, and it amplifies most of the stuff you didn’t like in the first movie, but it’s pretty much the definitive Jason Statham movie.

  10. Nice one. This isn’t a terrible film by any stretch. It has quite a nice visual style and Sutherland’s growling is usually good value. However… SPOILER!!!… Is my memory failing me or is the ending virtually identical to Silent Hill’s twist?

  11. you’re right. this was a decent movie. not fantastic, but worth a go.
    the internet is really hard on this director, but the guy know what he’s doin.

  12. JF – fair enough. I had kind of put the lesbian angle of HIGH TENSION out of my mind, but now that you mentioned it that bugged me too, which I’m sure I mentioned in the review. I will give him PIRANHA 3-D to prove himself though. That seems like the perfect movie for him and if it isn’t a hell of alot of fun I will join you in the off-bandwagon area.

    (I think I like HILLS HAVE EYES better than anybody though. The political commentary in it is just an extension of what Craven did in the original so I enjoyed it.)

  13. Jacks Lack of Motivation

    June 23rd, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    I really didn’t like this one at the time, and I was surprised by some of the positive accounts of it I heard afterwards. It seemed a lot like a less-good Silent Hill to me (I like SH, that isn’t supposed to be a pop at Gans’ film). As afore-SPOILERed the ending is very SH too; I like that twist a lot with hindsight but by then the actual climax of the film and all the ADR exposition to get there had taken me totally out of it.

    But my local horror guru likes it too so maybe I should give it another bash. I did like Aja’s Hills remake and still cannot believe that that was an X-Men kid on the rampage at the end there. Also it’s good to see Keifer take a big-screen lead again. And make amends for Flatliners.

    Cemetery Man is always worth a recommendation and I will always second said recommendation. It’s almost Fulci-level odd.

  14. The jaw stretch is pretty sweet, but I walked out of this and saw Dark Knight again.

  15. For the record, it was Luc Besson who fucked up the ending of
    High Tension. They had a pretty good ending for it originally. The short
    haired chick is telling the police the story about how she saved her friend
    from a deranged, unhygienic Frenchman, ending it just after the ass kicking
    fight in the greenhouse. But her friend is on the other side of the glass
    telling the police that story is complete bullshit, that she really just went
    crazy and killed her whole family (rude for a houseguest, in my opinion).
    So it’s basically the same movie without having all the contradictory shit
    (like the main character having a tense car chase with herself). It was Luc
    Besson’s idea to reveal her delusions on screen, which makes no fucking
    sense with the rest of the movie. But since Luc Besson was the
    co-producer, and the movie wasn’t going to get made without him, Aja
    just had to smile and say “Sure, Luc, that’s a great idea.” Come on
    Besson, that shit may fly with the Fifth Element, but don’t fuck up a
    perfecly servable horror movie with your craziness. Hmm, kind of a long
    post, sorry.

  16. It still has the same problem though, only you focus on it less. It may take you an extra day or two to realize why exactly that ending is bullshit, but eventually it will strike you, and for me at least that pisses me off even more then when something is just immediately stupid and poorly thought out.

  17. It still has the same problem though, only you focus on it less. It may take you an extra day or two to realize why exactly that ending is bullshit, but eventually it will strike you, and for me at least that pisses me off even more then when something is just immediately stupid and poorly thought out

  18. I had fun with Mirrors. I liked it more when we didn’t really know why the mirrors were so pissed off. The shots of reflections not doing what they were supposed to do were pretty damned creepy. Unfortunately, the brouhaha at the end seemed like it came from a different movie (it was almost Evil Deadish). It’s funny, Aja hasn’t made a truly great horror movie yet but all of them include pieces of greatness. I think Hills came the closest to being great, but there were still a couple mis-steps. I still look forward to whatever he does. I’m looking forward to Piranha 3D and even if it fails I probably won’t give up on him.

    Also, love his use of practical effects. Was shocked to learn that Mirrors was full of them. The CGI was subtle, the way it should be.

  19. Here’s hoping this Pirahana movie falls into the Ft13 part 3-d school of super crazyawesomefun horror fun.

  20. i’m getting high hopes for piranha 3D. it has richard dreyfus in it, and i heard an interview with paul scheer where he says dreyfus is basically reprising his role from jaws.

  21. I too was surprised by how good the Hills Have Eyes Remake actually was

    I haven’t seen Mirrors yet though

  22. Definitely watch “Cemetary Man” if you haven’t seen it. One of the most unique and unexpectedly affecting horror films I am aware of. Its a zombie movie where most of the horror isn’t about the zombies at all. And the theme is one of my favorites of all time. Cool, mysterious film.

  23. Now Cemetery Man had an undisputed badass ending! I suppose
    you could dispute it, though, people are like that. Contrary
    motherfuckers, people are.

  24. Christian Brimo

    June 25th, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    Hey Vern check out a film called Finale. It premiered at the Australian horror film fest, but its by a guy from LA. Also deals with the threat of shit in mirrors and it too has a ‘painting over the mirrors’ scene that is nicely fucked up and scary

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