Six years ago the Hollywood remake of The Ring was one hell of an awakening to the freakish world of J-Horror (Japanese Horror) films. The Grudge, while not as good as the aforementioned, was pretty eerie as well. A semi-steady stream of crap like One Missed Call and the more recent The Eye followed. Today I had a chance to watch the latest K-Horror (Korean Horror) crossover: Mirrors.
And for once, it was a good thing I didn’t set my expectations very high. It gave the chance for the movie to be better than I anticipated. It’s not much better, mind you, but when you set the bar so low any incremental change is good.
Like most films of this genre, Mirrors involves some pissed off supernatural beings who feel slighted by something someone did to them. Instead of a phone or a television being their avenue to our world, this time around the gateway is one of those reflective surfaces that you look into while styling your hair (yes, it is a mirror). A rundown department building, built upon the ruins of a psychiatric hospital, has a lot of these contraptions in it and is the epicenter of activity. Unfortunately, down on his luck detective Ben Carson (Kiefer Sutherland) has taken a side job of securing the place. It doesn’t take too long for the beings trapped inside to begin manipulating him to do their bidding by threatening his family — namely his estranged wife Amy (Paula Patton) and his sister Angela (Amy Smart).
What the movie has going for it is the intense effort put forth by Kiefer Sutherland. I’m guessing every actor must relish the opportunity to portray a character with anger and alcohol issues and Sutherland appears to be no different. Shedding his 24 persona, he tackles the troubled role with unbridled enthusiasm — sometimes too much of it. For whatever reason, Ben would simply snap and begin shouting at people as he tried to unravel the mystery. I’m okay with the short-fuse idea, but these outbursts were thoroughly over-the-top and would have landed him with a broken jaw had he acted that way anywhere near me. Other than that minor nuisance, I think Kiefer captured the anxiety any man would feel if his family was threatened by something he had no control over. Paula Patton, while looking simply delectable, does an admirable job too, as a mother fearing for the safety of her children. She also does a relatively good job of reigning Sutherland in.
But mostly Mirrors is a rehash of all the other Asian horror flicks that have come before it. Scares are tossed every which way via an array of methodical build-ups (you know its coming, you just don’t know exactly when). Shocks are provided with the gruesome looks of the apparitions and the horrific ways dreamed up to maim or kill. Nothing new to see here except for the creepy idea that mirrors (or other reflective surfaces) harbor other planes of existence — some that may be very hostile to our being.
Mirrors is good for some rudimentary scares but not much else. All I know is, for the foreseeable future, I’ll be double-checking my reflection for any anomalies as I brush my teeth in the morning. You never know . . .