It’s been awhile since Mirrors debuted in theaters. All the way back in August this horror-remake of a Korean film of similar plot came out and made a modest sum domestically and abroad before bowing out of theaters, never to be heard from again. Posters for the film touted a scary looking/demented girl on the front, yet the home video release went an entirely different route, with Kiefer Sutherland taking front and center, likely due to its timed released alongside the debut of 24’s new season. While the film was by and large a disappointment to those who saw it, there are a few redeeming qualities about the film, including an on-screen death that really is just about the most gruesome thing I’ve ever seen.
Attempting to pick up the shattered pieces of his life, a disgraced former cop (Sutherland) takes a routine security job guarding the charred ruins of the once-famous Mayflower department store in New York. But the terrifying ominous images he sees in the building’s ornate mirrors will send him on a pulse-pounding mission to unravel the secrets of the stores past…before they destroy his entire family!
I actually thought this was a DTV deal until I read up on it before watching it (as I tend to do with horror films, to prepare myself for the inevitable suck that they often are) and then remembered the trailers, oh so brief as they were, that aired back in July/August. Strictly speaking there is nothing original about this film and the plot itself is really quite cumbersome; Kiefer Sutherland basically plays a supernatural dealing version of Jack Bauer, who is prone to yelling in fear at scary things that pop out at him in the mirrors. It honestly felt like a rather phoned in performance by Sutherland, which is disappointing, but I can’t imagine they gave him much direction other than “you know…just be Bauer. But a little bit more timid. Also, you can say the f-bomb.”
So what was redeeming about this film then? Well shortly into the “mystery” of it (the film, after all, has Sutherland starring as a former detective who has been absorbing alcohol and pills like no tomorrow, so there has to be a mystery for this detective to solve), the people in the mirrors begin to fool around with Ben Carson (that’s Sutherland) and his estranged family. First on the chopping block close to him is his sister, played by Amy Smart. Her appearance in this film is brief, yet you remember it throughout the rest of the film because when she dies here…holy crap. I’ve seen some gruesome and gory things in my time, but the way they showed every detail of her death…well, let’s just say I reached a new level of desensitization after that point. The entirety of the remaining movie was me waiting for something as gruesome to happen again, but nothing nearly as bad did. Kind of disappointing, but it’s the kind of scene that sticks with you and now, even days after watching it, I still have trouble talking about little else in the film.
Honestly, that type of death scene is what I want from horror films. It was genuinely creepy, it made you want to hurl a little bit and you honestly felt that when the rest of the characters in the film saw it, their heads would spin. Instead? Ben pukes in the sink and the detective assigned to the case gasps and portrays a disgusted look on his face but other than that? Nada. No “Gee, that was really kind of humanly impossible and the zero signs of forced entry and complete lack of evidence that anyone was in here with her isn’t strange in the least!” scene either. It was just piss more management of the plot elements and the remainder of the film just became a generic “What’s going on!? Others will think I’m crazy!” situation.
It’s really a shame the film couldn’t have been genuinely more frightening. The end result was nothing short of disappointing, with a rather stupid resolution of some old schizophrenic girl returning to a room full of mirrors where they repossess her when she opens her eyes. Uh, why? Why did she even have the freaky demon things in her anyway? It’s obviously not normal so what made her that way to begin with? If they had left it a total mystery then I wouldn’t really care, but they only half explain it which just feels half-assed.
And that really is all this film is. Half-assed. I would have loved to praise the hell out of this film, but the acting performances are less than stellar and aside from that absolutely eye-bulging death, there’s not much to see here. Despite this, I still think this film is worth a Rental as that death really has to be seen to believe. I don’t think any amount of hyping it up could even prepare you for the gore either. Those with weak stomachs need not look, but shock-horror fans will definitely put that death up on their lists. Oh and the differences between the rated/unrated versions? Not even a minute. There’s some extra splatter in the death scene, so there’s that at least.
The Blu-ray comes in the form of a two-disc Blu-ray release (second disc is the digital copy, as well as inserts for firmware notices, digital copy code, and an advertisement for other Fox Blu’s). Menus are a tad bit difficult to navigate, as they attempt to do some fancy “mirrored” effect and it’s hard to tell where you’re selecting exactly; it’s easy to figure out once you get the hang of the menu, but it’s odd to see menus with a learning curve.
Video comes in the form of an AVC encoded 1080p 2.40:1 aspect ratio that is strong and boasts plenty of detail. Fox has consistently been one of the most impressive companies to put out Blu-ray’s and the video on this release is really quite impeccable; the grain looks fantastic (odd thing to say, but it’s true) and the depth and clarity of the image is top notch. On top of that the film actually has a pretty solid amount of surround usages, courtesy of the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Voices in the mirror whisper in speakers and Kiefer’s bellowing screams echo throughout the room. Gunshots are also nice and deep, with solid subwoofer output throughout the film.
Extras for this lackluster film are actually quite in-depth, although why they’re all in standard definition, I’ve no idea. Deleted Scenes and Alternate Ending (15:37, SD) with optional commentary by director Alexandre Aja are up first and are mostly skippable; the alternate ending really doesn’t change much either. Reflections: The Making of (48:40, SD) is our fairly in-depth documentary, while Anna Esseker Hospital Footage (5:33, SD) is uncut footage of the sequences that were randomly spliced into the film. Behind the Mirror (18:22, SD) is a discussion on the concepts of mirrors themselves and finally there’s a quick Animated Storyboard Sequence (1:19, 1080p), which is the only HD extra on this entire set. There are also an array of BonusVIEW sequences to view as the film plays, if you’re so inclined.
Overall Mirrors is the kind of plot that would suit an episode of Supernatural, but definitely isn’t something that could sustain a two hour movie. That’s where the film falters, as it really doesn’t warranty a two hour story, yet we’re forced to endure it anyway. But…man, that is an awesome death scene, so I’m still gonna recommend this one as a Rental.
Mirrors is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.