Despite its ultra-spooky set decoration and eerie special effects, Mirrors comes across most of the time about as scary as a game of hide-and-seek. However, my husband gives this movie his “Number One Gore Award of the Year” for a bloody bathtub scene, which I admit not watching completely. Yes, I frequently close my eyes when the viewing gets tough, so I have to take his word regarding that horrific sequence. But did I receive any argument from him about the film’s totally ridiculous plot? Absolutely not.
Both of us believe that movies about the supernatural must make some kind of sense to draw us into the story. Mirrors fails that test. It concerns souls trapped inside a mirror in one location who can transport themselves to mirrors or different reflective surfaces in other places. Not only that, but the spirits can cause a great deal of grief to people who see these images. How the souls got trapped and why they’re behaving in such a nasty manner is never explained satisfactorily. This fault definitely puts a damper on any attempt to enjoy the film’s ghostly shenanigans.
Kiefer Sutherland stars as Ben Carson, a former undercover detective who’s suffering mental stress because of his role in the shooting of a fellow policeman. While trying to get reinstated, he’s taken a job as the night watchman in a burned-out department store. During his first few hours guarding the building, he discovers a handprint on a huge mirror -- but the print is inside the glass! It’s not long before he sees weird mirror images both on the job and at his sister’s (Amy Smart) house, where he’s sleeping on the couch because he’s estranged from his wife (Paula Patton) and two young children (Erica Gluck and Cameron Boyce). All of his family members soon face danger from the mirrors in their houses, so Ben must find the person these images demand he bring to them.
While Sutherland delivers a faultless performance here, it’s difficult to accept him as someone like Ben, a man with mental health issues who’s more pathetic than heroic. We’re used to seeing him as the confident, powerful Jack Bauer in TV’s 24 -- and that’s something this talented actor has to face in choosing his screen roles. The rest of the cast is fine also. They’re not the problem.
And no complaint needs to be made about the movie’s atmospheric cinematography, art direction and set direction, thanks to Maxime Alexandre (P2), Joseph C. Nemec III (The Hills Have Eyes), Malcolm Stone (The Ghost and the Darkness), Stephen Bream (V for Vendetta), Vlad Roseanu (TV's Gryphon), Liz Griffiths (Hot Fuzz), and Ian Whittaker (Being Julia). When Sutherland’s character wanders with his flashlight through the gigantic burned-out department store, it’s fascinating to see the shadowy figures of broken artifacts such as manikins, statues, toys, and -- of course -- the grand staircase. Too bad other elements of this horror movie lack the brilliance of its visual artistry.
(Released by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation and rated “R” for strong violence, disturbing images, language and brief nudity.)
For more information about Mirrors, please go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.