Here's to hoping Asian horror filmmakers start coming up with some better ideas for Hollywood to steal, because if I keep getting subjected to Western remakes of what essentially amounts to the same tired story over and over again, I'm going to climb a bell tower and...well...start spitting on people or something. It's even more frustrating when good actors and directors get sucked into these projects, as is the case with Alexandre Aja (Haute Tension) and Kiefer Sutherland in Mirrors, a remake of Sung Ho Kim's 2003 Korean shocker, Geoul sokeuro (Into the Mirror).
Sutherland stars as Ben Carson, an undercover cop whose been suspended after accidentally killing another officer. As he waits for reinstatement to the force, Ben takes on a night watchmen gig at a burned out department store in Manhattan, whereupon he discovers that said store's mirrors serve as some sort of alternate reflection of reality, and possess the power to force anyone who looks into them to do their bidding. Once exposed to the mirrors, Ben carries the evil with him wherever he goes, putting everyone from his kid sister, Angie (Amy Smart), to his estranged wife and children in danger. As Ben investigates the history of the store (Shocker Alert: It used to be a psychiatric hospital!), he finds himself following a trail of deceit and madness, as he races against time to save his family from their own reflections!
Mirrors actually starts off competently enough, offering a few effective jolts and a sympathetic character in Sutherland's Ben. The film only really starts to run off the rails in its third act, where what little logic and originality was to be had is thrown out the window in favor of a hackneyed demonic possession plot, and, from this point, the film simply stumbles toward its mind-numbing conclusion. It's also at this point that Kiefer Sutherland - at one time Mirror's most engaging element - becomes the film's biggest detriment, as he goes into full-on Jack Bauer mode, pistol whipping nuns and verbally chastising demons; I swear, I could almost hear the "Tick-Tock" of the 24 clock in the background. It's unintentionally hilarious stuff that actually makes the last twenty minutes of the film watchable, but only just barely.
Alexandre Aja, who so skillfully helmed the excellent remake of Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes, doesn't bring half as much style and ingenuity to this project, and, instead, seems content just churning out an endless succession of quick edit "boo" moments, and lingering gore sequences that do little more than showcase the cheapness of the FX work.
In the end, Mirrors is just another Asian ghost story (albeit with demons subbing in for the actual ghosts) filled with the same sort of semi-tragic characters and hand-me-down curses we've been seeing since Gore Verbinski's remake of "The Ring". It's not a terrible movie, but it's not nearly as good as it should have been, especially given its pedigree. Hell, if Jack Bauer can't save this film, who can?
Fox brings Mirrors to Blu-ray with a fairly solid 2.40:1 transfer that handles the film's rather dark color scheme well, but, at times, looks exceptionally grainy for such a recent production. I first noticed this when Ben makes his first descent into the store's basement, whereupon the image took on a somewhat fuzzy quality in the exceptionally low light sequence. Of course, this could very well have been an artistic choice (or, more than likely, the fault of the source), but I felt it was important to note. Otherwise, the image lives up to Fox's usual standards, with exceptional detail and color reproduction.
The DTS Master HD audio track is eerie and atmospheric, and makes full use of the surrounds. Everything from the echo of distant footfalls to the sickening crunch of bone and ripping of flesh are reproduced with stunning clarity. Dialogue is crisp and clear, and bass response is very robust. I'd have to credit much of the film's most effective scares to the wonderful job this mix did in setting the stage for them.
Mirrors arrives on BD with an impressive selection of extras, including a "Bonus View" PiP commentary track that offers video snippets of interviews and behind-the-scenes footage throughout the film; a very comprehensive making-of documentary entitled Reflections: The Making of Mirrors; deleted scenes and alternate ending; Anna Esseker Hospital Footage, which is basically a full reel of the scratchy, sepia-toned flashback footage we're shown in brief glimpses in the actual film.
The most entertaining special feature for me was the Behind the Mirrors short, which focuses on mirrors and their place in the world of occult phenomena. Featuring interviews with University types and mythologists, I found this short pretty fascinating.
The Blu-ray also features both the theatrical and unrated versions of the film, animated storyboards, trailers for this and other Fox releases, and the ever-present Digital Copy of the film for playback on your tricorder, wristwatch, and microwave oven.
Mirrors is a frustrating film that starts off competently, but completely crashes and burns by the film's final act. Fox's Blu-ray presentation is, as always, superlative, with a healthy amount of quality extras to pad the package. Aja offers enough ghost house goosing to make this a mildly entertaining spookfest for a lazy Sunday afternoon, but I can't recommend this one as anything more than a rental. If I did, I wouldn't be able to look myself in the mirror.
Oh, yeah...I said 'dat.