Horror movies. There are a lot of them. And unfortunately, a lot of them are crap. Simple as that. As audiences become more savvy in the art of cinema, special effects and the techniques of making them jump, it is up to the filmmakers to become more inventive and creative. Unfortunately, this is rare in Hollywood. Most horror movies are either remakes or adaptations of previously made Asian films. Alexandre Aja’s new version of Mirrors is one of the later.
Ben Carson is an ex-cop. He’s currently not on the force after killing a man by accident. He’s an alcoholic and has been kicked out of his home by his pathologist wife. He misses his son and daughter and wants to get his life back on track. In order to do this, Ben takes a job as the night watchman in an abandoned shopping mall that has been destroyed by fire. The building is old, ornate and was clearly once beautiful. And it is filled with mirrors. The mirrors are unusual in that they’re untouched and unblemished and as Ben’s job unfolds he notices strange things in the reflections. People appear in the mirror, but aren’t there in real life. And Ben’s own reflection acts strangely. And as things start going wrong in Ben’s life, he must figure out he’s going mad, or if there’s something more sinister in the mirrors.
Why oh why must directors rely on loud noises and animals jumping out at the protagonist in order to get scares. It simply just does not work. There is something to be said for building mood and creepiness. Atmosphere is far more frightening than loud noises. What you can’t see is infinitely more terrifying than what you can. Yet in horror movie after horror movie, the same old tactics, the same old techniques pop up, and there is nothing there to elicit more than a raised eyebrow from those of us who are used to this kind of thing. And Mirrors is no different.
The horror elements aside, the other problem with Mirrors is the script. It’s lazy. And takes twists that are either bafflingly poorly judged or else blatantly obvious. Kids aren’t scary any longer. It’s done. Unless the kid is Damien from the original version of The Omen, you’re going to get very little in the way of creepiness. Yet in Mirrors, we have a normal kid who goes spooky. Done, dull, move on. You could literally tick off the horror clichés while watching Mirrors. And then, in the climax, there are three separate and different endings. It’s like Aja and co-writer, Grégory Levasseur watched three distinct types of horror movie and lifted the endings of each, jamming them into the ending of Mirrors. None of them work within the context of the movie, and yet, if two endings were lifted, the remaining ending wouldn’t work either. It’s terrible.
Kiefer Sutherland, doing this while on hiatus on the filming of 24 does his best. And he does fairly well. Being a frantic, stressed to the point of breaking, can-do father is something Sutherland has nailed while doing 24. So he’s just repeating that here. And that’s fine. Paula Patton, who plays Carson’s wife does the usual concerned turned screaming feminine role. And Amy Smart has little to work with playing Ben’s sister. The rest of the cast is pretty ineffectual. And there’s the scary kid.
There is one gruesome moment in Mirrors that was pretty entertaining. But it’s a fleeting moment and lends little to the rest of the film. It’s just dull. Little in the way of scares, and clichés galore. Dull. There’s no other way of describing it.