Mirrors (Blu-ray / DVD)
Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Kiefer Sutherland, Julian Glover, John Shrapnel, Mary Beth Peil, Amy Smart
Directed by Alexandre Aja
Distributed by Fox Home Entertainment
"The R-rated horror event of the year." That may not be the exact quote used, but it is the marketing approach Fox took with Alexandre Aja's film Mirrors, and I have to say it had me friggin' psyched. Screw all that PG-13 stuff! I wanted serious scares and buckets of gore. With Aja at the helm hopes were high to get both. The man had delivered the goods twice already. The third time would surely be the charm, no? No. Early reviews started coming back bad. Had the whole R-rated campaign thing raised hopes to high? Or maybe, just maybe, the movie sucked. Unfortunately it's a little bit of both.
Kiefer Sutherland plays Ben Carson, a down on his luck ex-cop who has been trying to get his life together after accidentally killing another cop in the line of duty. He's lost it all -- friends, his wife and kids. Only his sister (Smart) sees fit to take him in as he gets off the booze and begins his healing process. With nowhere else to turn, he takes a job as a security guard at a burned out department store in New York City. Things start off quietly for Carson, but soon he discovers that there's something unusual about the store's mirrors. In them he sees all manners of specters and horrors. People burning to death and suffering. To make matters worse, the mirrors start torturing him by inflicting hallucinatory pain on our protagonist.
Immediately the cop within Ben takes over, and he begins learning the secrets of this once posh place's history. Apparently the guy he replaced slit his own throat with a piece of mirror. Mirrors that he too was obsessed with. Yep. Something strange is afoot. What do these ghastly images want? Is there a reason for the body count that begins piling up? There sure is, and it has to do with demonic possession of all things. Does that seem like a stretch? Brother, you haven't heard anything yet.
One of the main problems (and wow, are there a lot) is that Mirrors plays like a conglomeration of movies we've already seen. Watching it is like playing a trivia game. Can you spot all the rip-offs? Great sprawling location that our main character's the caretaker of? The Shining! Spooky little dark-haired girl in white who was forced to live in a separate room of her home while growing up because she's a little off? The Ring! Spooks in the water that eventually ends up flooding the set? Dark Water! Weird hell-bitch who crawls along the ceiling and walls like a Deadite? That's Renny Harlin's The Exorcist: The Beginning ripping off Raimi's Evil Dead films! Badly contrived twist ending that lacks any coherency? Haute Tension! Hey, wait a minute … Oh nevermind. You get where I'm going!
I can go on and on about how the film doesn't play by its own rules, the silly revolt against all reflective surfaces, or how Carson's wife's home has more sinks in it than a Japanese bath house, but why bother? Mirrors makes one thing crystal clear: When it comes to horror of other than the slasher variety, Aja is clearly out of his element. Say what you want about Haute Tension or even The Hills Have Eyes remake, the guy was able to at least build some suspense. Here we get nothing but Jack Bauer meets the mirror spooks complete with explosions and plenty of yelling through gritted teeth. Sigh.
The DVD and Blu-ray share mostly the same special features (which I will get to in a minute), and each package contains two versions of the film -- rated and unrated. The unrated cut, which is a bit juicier gore-wise, runs exactly ten seconds longer than its theatrical cousin. Honestly? No big deal. Nothing earth-shaking. And certainly nothing that can stop this movie from eating as much ass as it did in theatres. On to the DVD bonus features, which are little more than adequate.
Things kick off with a forty-nine-minute making-of featurette, Reflections: The Making-of Mirrors. By now I'm sure you know what to expect as it's strictly cookie-cutter stuff, but one moment is worthy of special recognition. Within its opening moments we learn that both Aja and his writing partner Gregory Levasseur felt that the initial script they were handed for the film was not as good as it should be so they re-wrote it. I guess there is something to that old saying "You can't polish a turd!" Wow. From there we get another eighteen-minute long featurette entitled Behind the Mirror. This was actually pretty interesting as it explored the mirror and its place in superstition and folklore. Good stuff. Finally we get eight deleted scenes including an alternate ending that is minus the CGI demon bitch and wouldn't have helped this flick in the slightest.
As for Blu-ray exclusive content, we get a featurette that focuses mainly on the backstory of Anna Esseker which includes more hospital footage, an animated storyboard sequence, and a nifty picture-in-picture video commentary with Aja and co-writer/producer Gregory Levasseur.
So what's the verdict? This is a kind-of above average package for a horribly average movie. Mirrors isn't the worst movie you'll see this year. It's just not a very good one either. It's a strictly middle-of-the-road experience that you'll forget about minutes after it's over. Let this be a lesson for filmmakers. Don't worry about your movie's rating or what audience you're trying to cater to. It doesn't matter if it's R or PG-13 as long as it's watchable. Instead, how about just concentrate on making your movie as good as it can be and we'll sort out the rest? Now if you'll excuse me, the clock is ticking and I need to go and shout "DAMN IT" through my teeth somewhere in downtown L.A. Our genre's well-being is counting on it!
2 1/2 out of 5
3 1/2 out of 5
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