Friday, October 30, 2009

Mirrors (USA, 2008)

(Spoilers) If the length of movie reviews were regulated by laws unwritten or written to be reduced in proportion to the artistic success of the movie they are about, then the blurb I stumbled upon in The New Yorker (issue Aug 11 & 18, 2008) on the Hollywood movie Mirrors would be the appropriate review of the flick. In its whole, it reads: "A horror film, directed by Alexandre Aja, about a family being targeted by evil forces that enter their home through mirrors. Starring Kiefer Sutherland."
But what the hell, I feel like writing something a bit longer, if only to vent my spleen about this piece of shit that was released as a sorry excuse for a horror film. Mirrors is one of those kinds of films which is best left unseen. It nominally functions as an excuse for drinking beer or getting stoned – it is, in any event, more entertaining than any given episode of Desperate Housewives, Heroes or Supernatural – but if you’re out for anything else other than a painfully boring experience you’re truly wasting your time. It is an unexplainable mystery how Alexandre Aja, the man behind the brutal but fascinating French film Haute tension (2003 / trailer) and 2006 version of The Hills Have Eyes (trailer), one of the best Hollywood horror remakes of the decade, managed to make a piece of ham as putrid as Mirrors. The film is nothing less than a prime example of everything that is wrong with Hollywood horror films.
As should be the case with a film with a budget, the acting and production is top notch, but the film itself is all fluff and no content, with a script that has enough holes in its logic to be a Republican president. Having never seen the original Korean film that Mirrors is based on – Sung-ho Kim's Geoul sokeuro / Into the Mirror (2003 / trailer) – I’ve no idea how much blame must be placed on the original source, but seeing that Hollywood can make improved versions – as was the case with The Ring (2002 / trailer), which despite all the naysayers is actually better than the original – there is no excuse for Mirrors to be as shitty as it is no matter what the quality of its inspiration.
Mirrors is a Valium disguised as a supernatural detective flick that thinks it a horror movie. It opens with a bloody scene of a desperate watchman running from something who ends up dying a bloody death when his own reflection slits his throat. Then Ben Carson (Kiefer Sutherland) enters the flick as his replacement as the night watchman at the Mayflower, a burnt down luxury department store. Ben is a recovering alcoholic cop who is off the force since he shot his partner. Estranged from his wife Amy (Paula Patton, last seen as the lead female in Deja Vu (2006 / trailer), the to-date least successful film of the Tony Scott/Denzel Washington team-ups), he now lives with his hot sister Daisy (a sadly under-used Amy Smart). In no time flat Ben realizes there be ghosts not only in them there changing rooms, but in them there mirrors, too. Worse, not only can them there ghosts travel from mirror to mirror but them there ghosts can actually go from reflective surface to reflective surface and are also, like, extremely evil. Daisy bites the dust in what is undoubtedly the money shot of the entire film, a scene that is truly horrific but sadly makes sure that everything that follows is sort of yawn-inducing.
Realizing that the evil reflections have something to do with someone named "Esseker", Ben goes into detective mode and traces the name back to a girl that was treated for schizophrenia in the Mayflower waaaaay back when the building was a nut house. She, however, has long retreated to the safety of a nunnery and has no intention of giving herself back up to being the physical hostess of the evil spirits trapped in the mirrors since her treatments as a child – at least that is the case until Ben forces her to come with him at gun point, upon which she suddenly becomes extremely acquiescent. That is, until the spirits get back in her; after that she sort of goes into super-human unnatural psycho mode. Mirrors ends with a really stupid twist that might have been interesting if the film itself had been good, but after all the boredom preceding it the viewer can only yawn at it.
So, superhuman demons that can obviously travel freely from reflective surface to reflective surface but don't bother to get everyone who looks into a mirror to search for Esseker? Demons that, way back when, haunted Esseker's family enough that they put her in a nunnery but that wait until 2009 to force lowly night watchmen to search for her? And why, if they can obviously also haunt during the day, do they leave the day watchman so totally untouched? Hell, they can effectively attack from the reflection on doorknobs but not from the shiny, reflecting wedding ring the nun wears? (She is, don’t forget, married to god.) Or the windows of the nunnery? Or the shine of the polished floor? I mean, they could have the whole fucking world looking for their original hostess, but prefer instead to bide their time angrily "eating souls" (as the Nun puts it) from mirrors until the next loser night watchman stumbles across their path? Whatever.
So, to return in closing to the concept of "If the length of movie reviews were regulated by laws unwritten or written to be reduced in proportion to the artistic success of the movie they are about," then my review of Mirrors should probably read: "Mirrors is a misfired remake of a Korean horror film that starts out well and has one effective money shot, but in the end is only a boring horror-cum-detective flick that comes across like an over-budgeted direct-to-DVD mistake."

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