I don’t know what exactly was going on with the production in Alexandre Aja’s remake of the 2003 Asian horror film “Geoul sokeuro,” but as it stands, this remake is probably one of the most inadvertently comical horror films of the last five years. The marketing campaign for this film promised one of the most insane genre outings we’ve ever seen, and I knew I was in trouble when I began to chuckle at Kiefer Sutherland screeching at the sight of his deformed doppleganger in his bathroom window. Everything about “Mirrors” has the potential to turn in to a bonafide horror masterpiece, and instead we’re given nothing but fake scares, clunky dialogue, and writing that is just atrocious.
Everything about this film is forced from the tension, to the gore, right down to the character interaction as we’re submitted to endless character exposition that is just cliché and redundant. Main character Ben is in a constant battle with his divorced wife struggling to stay close to his kids only because it’s going to serve a purpose later on when their lives are on the line, and nothing else. We’re also pounded over the head with Amy Smart’s character (she’s basically rendered pointless here) Angela who is the little sister of Ben, a supporting protagonist who only seeks to help him. He constantly calls her “sis” and she is always reminding him that she’s his littler sister (seriously, brothers and sisters don’t remind each other they’re related all the time) because we know sooner or later she’s going to suffer a tragic fate thanks to the dopplegangers.
And we know this because they pretty much ruin it in the trailers. The writers scramble to elicit some form of sympathy from the audience and what with the lethargic tone and bland performances, it’s all in vain from minute one. Meanwhile Aja struggles to garner a shock factor with scenes that are quite unique but lack any form of disturbing element we saw with “Haute Tension.” You can tell Aja is trying to compensate for the lack of any actual engrossing characters or mystery by slipping in gore whenever possible. So he hooks us in with a vicious throat slashing and continues with lame burning sequences, cheesy depictions of past victims, and a jaw ripping scene that had every possibility to be disturbing but with its traditional method of delivery it just comes off as awkward rather than frightening. “Mirrors” has every chance to be great and occasionally dips in to that territory time and again.
I sat watching in sheer disbelief thinking to myself “That scene could have been amazing,” “That moment could have been so gripping,” “Now that is a scene that could have been so frightening,” but instead it’s all just one big messy misstep and by the time the second half rolls around you can sense that everyone has given up. Especially Kiefer Sutherland who is either over the top or bland. One minute he’s muttering his dialogue like he’s being held at gunpoint by his agent, and the next minute he’s wailing at the top of his lungs trying to chew the scenery before the rats do. And when he’s not on drastic highs or desperate lows, he seems to be channeling Jack Bauer trying to uncover the mystery of this mirror monster while screeching “Tell me where he is or I’ll hurt you,” and “Where is he? Where?!” Sutherland is a better actor than this tripe allows him to be.
Like all Asian horror films there is a brutally convoluted back story and origin to the villain of the piece, and we spend the latter portion of the movie with Ben who is trying to figure out what the mirror wants. And yes it involves a vengeful spirit, and murder. Ho-hum. Sadly, Aja has much more promise to be one of the great horror directors, and garbage like “Mirrors” is seriously not doing him any favors. And kudos to you if you can figure out what in god’s name that ending is supposed to indicate, because I’m lost at this time. I don’t know who I feel bad for more, Alexandre Aja for deciding to direct this, Kiefer Sutherland for starring, or the audience for assuming this was going to be a hell of a horror movie and ended up watching an accidental black comedy with a nonsensical narrative. This is sure to be a blemish on the resumes of everyone involved with this monstrosity.