Troubled ex-cop Ben Carson (Sutherland) takes a job as a night watchman in a New York department store whose mirrors have strangely survived a fire. When his family are menaced by their own mirror-images, Ben investigates the haunting.
French director Alexandre Aja made an effective debut with the derivative but ingenious Haute Tension (aka Switchblade Romance), then went Hollywood with the remake of The Hills Have Eyes (which, admittedly, was shot in Morocco). Here, he melds even more into the mainstream of contemporary horror pointlessness with yet another bland-to-ridiculous American remake (this time, shot in Romania) of an Asian ghost story. Mirrors isn’t as faithful to the storyline of its original — 2003’s Korean Into The Mirror — as the retreads of The Ring, The Grudge, Shutter, Pulse or The Eye are, but it borrows several set-pieces involving mirror images committing bloody mayhem which carries over into the real world, and scrambles elements of the earlier film’s script into a new, less satisfying, plot.
The main problem with Mirrors is its truly clunky screenplay, which fails to support the often stylish visuals. Given that Aja and his regular script collaborator, Grégory Levasseur, are writing in their second language, it might have made sense to get an Anglophone in to rewrite the awkward dialogue. But that still wouldn’t take care of the many ill-conceived scenes (soap-opera bits where the hero talks with his estranged wife about why he’s a miserable drunk) and a plot which straggles all over the place (including visits to a disused insane asylum inside the department store, a sinister farm in rural Pennsylvania, and a convent where mirrors aren’t allowed) as poor old Kiefer Sutherland tries to put the pieces together. The spectre of 24 haunts Sutherland throughout, especially when he’s pulling a gun on a nun and snarling, “Don’t make me threaten you.”
The opening scenes create a genuinely creepy setting in the burned-out department store, which can’t be restored or even cleaned thanks to unresolved lawsuits, but the film unaccountably moves away at every opportunity, staging fright scenes in duller locales. There’s one memorably ugh bathroom death involving a dislocated jaw, but this early shock raises the question of why the evil spirits string out the rest of the stalkings long enough for the cute kids and their hot mom to hope for salvation. Like most US remakes of Asian horrors, Mirrors tries in vain to make sense — even though explaining the spookery makes it a) less frightening and b) laughable.
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