A decent cast, headed by Kiefer Sutherland, Amy Smart, and Paula Patton, is wasted in “Mirrors,” a disappointing, underwhelming remake of the 2003 Asian horror film, “Into the Mirrors.”
The movie represents a step down for all involved, beginning with Fox, which just weeks ago released the supernatural horror “X Files: I Want to Believe,” an artistic and commercial flop, and for the French director Alexandre Aja, who showed more talent and skills in his previous efforts, “High Tension” and “The Hills Have Eyes.”
Like the recent “X-Files, “Mirrors” suffers from poor conception and execution, cheesy special effects, and excessive running time (110 minutes), plus this one has the problem of a silly dialogue that spends too much time on exposition. In short, in every way, “Mirror” doesn't feel like a big studio picture.
Fox has obviously little commercial hope for its picture, which was press screned at the very last moment, last night. “Mirrors” may appeal to the genre's hardcore fans, but will disappear from the thetaers after a wuick playoff.
Without much conviction, Sutherland, so good and commanding in the TV series “24,” walks through the lead part of Ben Carson, NYPD detective, an angry and boozy man after an accidental shooting of a fellow cop that that has left him bitter and guilty.
In an effort to regain the trust of his family and begin a new chapter with a more grounded self-respect, Ben takes a position as a security guard of a ruined department store. Trouble begins when he thinks he spots visions in the mirrors of the story, which had suffered a fire. The spooky and gory images of death prompt Ben to explore the store's past. Soon, there is no distinction between Ben's work and home life, which is also affected by his strange hallucinations. Is he imagining seeing ghosts
In his investigation, Ben unveils all kinds of secrets, including some that derive from the mental asylum that was in the building before closing down. That tragedy involved a schizophrenic girl and a nun (Mary Beth Peil), who now holds crucial info that might release Ben from his ordeal and also resolve the mystery.
Mirrors have served as wonderful props and symbols in various genres, such as melodrama, noir, and horror, but Aja doesn't take full advantage of their potential, as is evident in a subplot that involves the interaction between Ben's son and the mirrors' ghosts and shadows, and cannot be revealed here.
Like other American remakes of Asian horror flicks, which increasingly serve as Hollywood's source of the horror stories, “Mirrors” is a pale imitation of the original title, failing to absorb the good stuff that it had. In its messy shape, the picture is positioned in limbo, neither convincing as a supernatural tale nor compelling enough as a more realistic thriller, and Aha blends the conventions of these genres to largely disappointing effects.
Despite a luxurious running time, the movie is shallow and tedious: We never get a real sense of Ben's innermost feelings, and the demonic forces that affect his existence, a combined result of bad writing and poor helming. Instead of real menace and fear, what we get is a string of loosely connected scenes of terror.
While on the surface Sutherland feels right for the part, he, too, falls victims to the inept machinations that surround him and the whole enterprise. Ben behaves stupidly and makes mistakes even by standards of such schlock characters. As his wife Amy, the gifted and sexy actress Paula Patton, who showed a lot of promise in “Deja Vu,” gets little to do or say.
Burdened with explanations, which are meant to cover the holes in the plot, the dialogue is mostly trivial, resulting in a film that's not only incoherent and messy but borderline risible and derivative too, influenced by M. Might Shyamalan, among other horror masters.
Aja's former features, in which he showed more command of technique, were better than “Mirrors,” for which I would guess he got his biggest budget to date. The first Haute Tension (2003) was a slick but unappealing thriller, and his 2006 remake of Wes Cravens exploitation classic “The Hills Have Eyes,” turned it into a cruel little picture.
I have no idea whether “Mirrors” was made too quickly or too carelessly, but overall it registers as way below-average flick, offering minor, familiar pleasures.
It may be interesting to conduct a systematic study of why the earlier American remakes of Asian horror flicks, such as “The Ring” and “The Grudge” and even their sequels, were more skillfully made and scarier than later ones, such as “Shutter,” “Pulse” or “One Missed Call,” with which “Mirrors” established an undesirable and unfortunate connection.
Ben Carson – Kiefer Sutherland
Amy Carson – Paula Patton
Angela Carson – Amy Smart
Anna Esseker – Mary Beth Peil
Michael Carson – Cameron Boyce
Daisy Carson – Erica Gluck
Robert Esseker – Julian Glover
Lorenzo Sapelli – John Shrapnel
A 20th Century Fox release, presented with Regency Enterprises, of a New Regency production.
Produced by Alexandra Milchan, Marc Sternberg, Gregory Levasseur.
Executive producers, Marc S. Fischer, Kiefer Sutherland, Andrew Hong.
Co-producer, Eun Young Kim.
Directed by Alexandre Aja.
Screenplay, Aja, Gregory Levasseur, based on the motion picture “Into the Mirror,” written by Kim Sung Ho.
Camera: Maxime Alexandre.
Music: Javier Navarrete.
Production designer: Joseph Nemec III.
Art directors, M.M. Stone, Steve Bream.
Set decorators: Liz Griffiths, Ian Whittaker.
Costume designers: Ellen Mirojnick, Michael Dennison.
Sound: Albert Bailey.
Sound designer/supervising sound editor: Mark Larry.
Re-recording mixer: Alex Gruzdev.
Visual effects supervisors: David Fogg, Jamison Scott Goei.
Special visual effects and digital animation: Rez-Illusion.
Digital visual effects: Look Effects.
Visual effects: Autrechose & Co., New York.
Special effects makeup: Gregory Nicotero, Howard Berger.
Stunt coordinator: Cedric Proust.
MPAA Rating: R.
Running time: 110 Minutes.