Saturday, August 23, 2008


Year: 2008
Director: Alexandre Aja
Cast: Kiefer Sutherland, Paula Patton, Amy Smart, Jason Flemyng

Mirrors is yet another horror flick from director Alexandre Aja, who directed The Hills Have Eyes and produced P2. The former was brilliant but the latter utterly boring. This time Aja tries his hand at something more supernatural.

In Mirrors, Kiefer Sutherland, who plays Jack Bauer on hit TV show 24, stars as Ben Carson, a cop on suspension who's having problems with his marriage, and is an alcoholic to boot. While being separated from his wife and family, Ben stays over at his sister Angela's (Amy Smart) place.

In order to make ends meet, he takes up a job as a security guard at a burnt down department store. It is at this place where Ben starts to have weird experiences with mirrors. He sees reflections that shouldn't be there, and starts to believe that the mirrors are alive. However, no one believes his claims, not his sister or even his wife Amy (Paula Patton), who is still having problems reconciling with him. But when the evil behind the glass kills Angela, Ben starts to fear for his family's life, and sets out to find the truth about what happened in that building.

You know, when I had finished watching Mirrors, I humorously thought that this film is simply an exercise of putting Jack Bauer in an episode of Supernatural, and wondered if he should have called the Winchester brothers to help him. But jokes aside, this film isn't half bad. Aja and partner Gregory Levasseur, who wrote the screenplay together, keep the pacing tight and succeed in creating a sombre mood that suits the film nicely. Sutherland is the driving force here, playing Ben with great conviction. He's not much different from the Jack Bauer character (sorry for the excessive 24 references) but it works nonetheless. Patton isn't as effective playing Amy however, and Amy Smart is wasted in her role as Ben's sister. Her role was basically to play a victim, and that's it. Her death scene is truly a highlight of this film, if you're squeamish, you might want to turn away when it happens.

So what doesn't work for Mirrors? The scare techniques. Aja did The Hills Have Eyes very well, up to the point that even looking at the vast empty desert where the monsters lived was scary enough. In Mirrors, every scare technique you've seen in textbook horror flicks are used. The one where you turn away from a mirror and when you look back at it, there's something there? Check. The one where you're looking in the dark and an animal comes out of nowhere? Check. Aja also uses the same trick used by the Korean film that this story is based on, where the reflection in the mirror doesn't move when you do. He even borrows a few ideas from Dark Water and The Exorcist. It's all fine and dandy, but if I can see the scares coming, then it's not very scary, is it?

And there's also the stereotype character of the troubled lead with a dark past trying to pick up the pieces. Same ones you've seen in The Ring and Dark Water. It makes me wonder why evil things never look for happy people to torment. I guess this is the new school of horror, whereas in the past, the evil in Poltergeist preyed on a happy family.

But all in all, it's not a bad effort by Aja. It's better than P2, and certainly better than the last two films I watched before this. (3.5/5)

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