If I ever win the lottery, my to-do list includes buying my very own race horse and naming her Asian Horror Remake. See, I’m just planning ahead so one day when the old gray mare ain’t what she used to be and eventually gallops to the heavenly stable in the sky, I’ll be able to pick up a nice fat stick and use her carcass like a piñata. It’s a disturbing image I know, but that’s what the folks in Hollywood seem to be doing these days and as the saying goes - if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
‘Mirrors’ is the latest spawn of the overdone fad where filmmakers who can’t come up with their own original ideas decide to pick a semi-successful Asian horror flick out of a hat and milk it for all it’s worth. To be fair, ever since ‘The Ring’ revitalized the Americanized rehash craze, ‘Mirrors’ is probably one of the better ones to come along. Then again, considering my stance on the whole subject, that isn’t saying much. I’d also like to point out that writer-director Alexandre Aja has mentioned that his film really isn’t a remake of the 2003 South Korean horror film ‘Geoul Sokeuro’ (‘Into the Mirror’) written and directed by Sung-ho Kim. However, with both films being about ex-cops turned store security guards who are haunted by malevolent forces dwelling inside mirrors, what else could it be? Frankly, I think it’s ridiculous for the man to make such a bold claim, but whatever. If Aja prefers that we don’t use the R-word, we’ll call it a copycat then.
Anyway, in the mimicry known as ‘Mirrors,’ Kiefer Sutherland stars as Ben Carson--a suspended NYPD detective trying to put the pieces of his shattered life back together. Fighting alcoholism, and desperate to mend his rocky marriage with his wife Amy (Paula Patton), Ben takes a job as a security guard at a dilapidated building called the Mayflower. During his first day on duty, Ben learns that the once luxurious department store is stuck in insurance limbo after being completely ravaged by a tragic fire. Strangely, the only things untouched by the blazing inferno are the immaculate mirrors. Ben pushes this anomaly out of his mind and goes about his business until he begins to see startling things reflecting back at him. At first he thinks he might be hallucinating, possibly a side effect from his prescription medication to deal with his alcohol addiction, but what’s happening is far from a hallucination. Ben realizes the mirrors are trying to send him a message, and unless he can solve the mystery--his family will be cursed with a fate much worse than seven years bad luck.
The story for ’Mirrors’ is more cohesive than most of these types of films, and there are a few twists and turns that do keep it moderately interesting. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any plot holes, though. For instance, we have a gruesome bathroom scene where the mirrors show Ben that they mean business. The problem is, if these supernatural forces can make such a vicious statement early on in the movie, why don’t they use similar tactics against Ben’s wife near the end? Instead, the mirrors choose to water down their murderous ways when they could just as easily have ripped her apart. It didn’t make sense, so while the bathtub scene may have looked cool, it was too over-the-top and threw the whole movie out of whack.
Sutherland also gives a decent performance, but he really doesn’t deliver anything we haven’t seen from him already. Ben is basically a cross between a rookie Jack Bauer from ‘24’ and DUI Kiefer. It wasn’t like he was out of place, though, so maybe that was Aja’s intention when he brought Kiefer aboard the project.
One last thing, ‘Mirrors’ concludes with a twist. Some people will love it, and I’m sure others will think it is cheesy. Personally, I thought it was pretty clever, and I was glad it didn’t end on a more predictable note.The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
The 2-Disc Unrated Blu-ray of ‘Mirrors’ comes with both the theatrical and unrated versions. I’m guessing the unrated is a bit more graphic, but to be honest, with only a 10-second longer runtime, I had a hard time pinpointing the differences.
For a brand-new release, ‘Mirrors’ comes with a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 (2.40:1 aspect ratio) transfer that is a huge disappointment. During the opening credits, Aja applies an innovative kaleidoscopic mirror effect with New York City landmarks that should have looked spectacular on Blu-ray, but instead it falls flat and is far from striking. From there, things don't get any better. Black levels are subpar and inconsistent throughout, and finer details are swallowed by shadows. Also, the picture is often riddled with a heavy sheath of hazy grain and noise in the gloom, which occasionally even manages to creep into some daylight scenes. I suppose some may argue that the grittiness enhances an artistic touch, but for me the transfer was a distracting eyesore most of the time.
The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 on the other hand, is quite impressive. Dialogue comes through the center channel with a crisp clarity and at an appropriate level to the music and other ambient sounds. The catchy score by Javier Navarrete fills the room and casually trails off to the surrounds. Effects like gunshots, shattering mirrors, and passing vehicles also enhance the viewing experience by utilizing the rear speakers nicely. The bass gets a healthy workout, too - rumbling away when flames lick the screen and there are at least two solid jump-out-of-your-seat moments. Hard-core audiophiles won’t classify ’Mirrors’ as having reference quality sound, but it’s definitely strong enough to intrigue most movie fans.
Rounding out the audio options are French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, as well as subtitles in Cantonese, English, French, Korean, and Spanish.
The disc includes many of the extras found on the 2-disc DVD:
I think I’ve been conditioned to despise remakes of Asian cinema, because ‘Mirrors’ turned out better than I thought it would be. Now I’m not saying it’s a great horror movie by any means, but I wouldn’t say it’s awful, either. It has its moments, and under normal circumstances, I’d be inclined to call this one worthy of a look. However, the adequate extras and solid audio aren’t enough to offset the lackluster picture quality. For a format touting stunning video, ‘Mirrors’ just doesn’t cut it--so unfortunately this one is a rental at best.