Skip to main content

Mirrors: A Time to Reflect

Movie title: Mirrors (2008)
Grade: C+ (2 ½ stars)
Rated: R
Directors: Alexandre Aja
Producers: Gregory Levasseur, Alexandra Milchan, Marc Sternberg, Arnon Milchan (Exec.), Kiefer Sutherland (Exec.), Marc S. Fischer (Exec.)
Starring: Kiefer Sutherland “Ben Carson,” Paula Patton “Amy Carson,” Amy Smart “Angela Carson”
Genre: Horror
Summation: Cop-turned-security guard Ben Carson (Kiefer Sutherland) discovers that the mirrors in a closed-down department store mall that he is guarding are possessed of evil spirits and threaten him and his family.
Spoilers ahead: No

---

My hat goes off to horror moviemakers. It’s a tough job. If you do it right, you make something that is memorably scary, that is unique, and that is in some sense logically plausible, causing the viewer to get the chills and say: “Wow! What if that happened to me?” You may be dealing with the supernatural, but the flow and details of the story still have to make sense. And think about it…how often does good, original horror movie material come along? Not often at all!

Horror movies that fail end up failing for a number of reasons, and these reasons usually fall into a select few categories; one, they are knock-offs of older, more successful films (i.e. I Am legend, 2008); two, they have too much gore, but not enough suspense and fear (i.e. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 2006); three, they use good special affects in place of fear created from a good storyline (i.e. The haunting, 1999); fourth, they use pseudo-suspenseful garbage (i.e. graphic monsters or zombies loudly yelling and attacking, dead girls popping up and screaming, The Strangers, 2008). Perhaps it’s a combination of these factors, but in any case, when a horror movie bombs, it usually emanates from these things.

When a horror movie succeeds, on the other hand, it is always because the movie builds rock-solid suspense off of unknowns in the plot and (temporarily at least) “wows” the viewer into imagining said horrifying act(s) happening to them and making them cringe at the thought. Good horror doesn’t come from lots of blood and guts, nor from pretty special affects, nor from yelling and screaming, nor yet from evil hell-beasts chasing people from screenshot to screenshot. Good horror movies come from good writing.

Unfortunately, there is so much trash writing making the rounds that a great vacuum has been created on the big screen for worthily scary flicks. Most outright suck from the get-go and the rest leave somewhat of a fair amount to be desired. In Mirrors, we have a perfect example of the latter, with shotty, troublesome writing and mediocre everything else.

Was I scared? Yes, I’ll say I was. Seeing a reflection in a mirror of a boy refusing to follow the actions of the real boy is kind of scary. The ending gave me the creeps, as did seeing Sutherland acting like a madman, running around the house to get all the mirrors covered before more disaster struck. That was scary. The movie does generate some level of fear. The storyline is where most of the trouble lies. For instance, it is never really clear why the demon(s) got trapped in the mirrors. And what did the mirrors have to do with those who died in the burnt-down department store? See if you can figure it out. One thing I did figure out is that the horror premises in this movie suffered from a serious lack of structural support!

Ben Carson (Kiefer Sutherland) plays a former cop-turned-security guard recovering from alcoholism who ends up working security for the fallen store. He starts to hear noises and disturbing sounds, and soon finds the mirrors, mirrors that give him tormenting messages. More so at first than later on, the story moves rather slowly. And Sutherland’s acting was disappointing. He could have done better. Instead, he had the same mannerisms and behavioral characteristics that he has as Jack Bauer on 24. Even the repeated “damnit” swear and his grading panic voice sounded the same. Maybe this was done on purpose, but it only cheapened his performance. This was definitely a step down for him.

When the movie does manage to pick up the pace, it gets clumsy. Much of the story, while not cliché, is just bizarre, like indestructible mirrors that demons scribble messages onto, charging and attacking supernatural entities with great strength who desire to repossess devout nuns, evil beings who take on the mirror images of a woman and then proceed to ripping her mouth open in order to kill her…bizarre stuff.

There is a gore element in the film and a story that tries to hold one’s attention – and it does the job – but mostly just makes the audience squint with a “huh?” sort of reaction some of the time. Though not ridiculous, the plot borders on becoming so. It may have enough of a spook factor to become a memorable horror movie, but I doubt it. But let me be clear in saying that this was the scariest movie I can recall seeing in the last three years, and for that it gets a grade bump!

The ending is very chilling. On the fear scale, it’s way scarier than Friday the 13th and about as scary as The Village or The Blair Witch Project. Overall, the acting is fair, the choreography is okay, and the dialogue isn’t too bad. The special affects are very good. Riddled with bizarreness and some obstinate imperfections, Mirrors is still scary enough so that less-critical, dyed-in-the-wool horror fans might actually enjoy it. But for the rest of us, don’t expect too much.

(JH)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

When Jesus Turns Down the Glory: 10 Worst Ever Christian Songs

It’s a sad testimony when even the creator of a thing realizes that the product isn’t what it was intended to be. Well, actually it’s a good thing. It just doesn’t happen often enough. The Christian music industry is, shall we say, not up to par with where its admirers (and even creators and ardent well-wishers) would hope it would be. And when even the average believer realizes that their music is not market-cornering stuff, all should know that there is a problem.

Now not all Christian music sucks (you might even find a few rock songs from artists like Petra on Joe Holman’s ipod that he still sometimes listens to and enjoys), but what makes the stuff that does suck suck is that what sucks sucks for a number of different reasons. We begin the countdown going from best of the worst to absolute worst...

The Top 5 Most Powerful Beings in Sci-fi (Part I of II)

It’s a subject that is rarely tackled in any form outside of random questions on a message board, but here we will devote a sensible examination of it. Who – what – is the most powerful being anywhere in every realm of sci-fi or fantasy ever dreamt up by a finite human being? I’ve been contemplating this subject since I was 8 years old. At 39, it hasn’t left my mind. That means several things; (1) I’m a fucking geek. (2) I’ve invested enough of my life pondering this for it to qualify as an obsession.

As with all “Most” anything lists, we are faced with several problems, one of them being limited source material. A couple of these only made one or two brief appearances somewhere and that is all we have to go by. But sometimes, those situations let our imaginations go into overdrive and give us even more creative fun. The mystery tends to add to the experience of contemplation.

The Top 5 Most Powerful Beings in Sci-fi (Part II of II)

#1) The Douwds – From Star Trek The Next Generation

Claim to fame: This Douwd went from pacifist to mass murderer of 50 billion in a single moment of anger. He appears to hold the record for most murders in all of sci-fi.
Abilities: Just about unlimited.
Nature: True immortals.

Our winner, debatably edging out number #2, is a mysterious race of beings called the Douwds. We only get to meet one of their kind in a single episode (#51, season 3 - see the condensed version here) called “The Survivors.” It was one of the very best of any season. What little we know of this illusive race “of disguises and false surroundings” only adds to our fascination with them.

When the Enterprise gets an urgent distress call from a federation colony on Delta Rana IV about an attacking alien warship, they head over as fast as they can, but they are days away. By the time they arrive, it is too late. All are dead and the planet has been literally leveled…with the sole exception of one house and the small pa…