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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 store’s past...before they destroy his entire family!
For more about Mirrors and the Mirrors Blu-ray release, see Mirrors Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on September 18, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Paula Patton, Amy Smart, Mary Beth Peil, Cameron Boyce, John Shrapnel
Director: Alexandre Aja
» See full cast & crew
Mirrors Blu-ray Review
Mirror, mirror on the wall, what's the most hackneyed horror film of all?
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, September 18, 2009
When a supernatural thriller like Mirrors offers chills so willfully "by the numbers" as it does, I guess it's only fair to have a numbered list pointing out just a few of the clichés that are in store for the viewer:
1. Tormented hero, an ex-cop (is there any other kind?), working through a personal crisis, and under the influence of pills that may or may not be contributing to what may or may not be hallucinations.
2. Spooky, deserted gothic building, once an insane (or, considering this film, perhaps "inane") asylum (later remodeled to be an upscale department store, in one of several unintentional laughs Mirrors provides).
3. Green-lit victim running frightened through New York's subway tunnels, unable to find an escape and of course managing to get himself locked in a tiny room with the otherworldly enemy.
4. Tormented hero attempting to patch up his shaky marriage with wife whose career as a medical pathologist perfectly places her to help in his investigation of the spooky goings on.
5. Tormented hero's family soon becomes prospective prime victims for malevolent evil from an unknown realm.
6. Shocking (shocking!, do you hear me?) twist at the end (which anyone with half a brain will see coming about 30 seconds into the film).
Need I go on? You know going in to Mirrors pretty much exactly what you're going to get—a supernatural chiller, a la The Ring, with some kind of mystery at its core that will at least attempt to explain the inexplicable, namely that old mirrors in this abandoned building seem to be giving ex-cop, and now security guard, Ben Carson (Keifer Sutherland) the ability to see into another world where various people are being tormented and outright tortured. Is Carson crazy? Or does the Mayflower, the asylum cum store, have demonic powers at its beck and call? Go ahead: guess. If you care.
Anyone who's fond of the classic Twilight Zone episode "The After Hours," starring Anne Francis as a literal "living doll," knows that a closed department store can indeed be a spooky place (even in late 1950's, low production values black and white, for crying out loud). Mirrors ups the ante considerably by having the Mayflower be the ashen ruins of a gothic structure that was hit by a massive fire years earlier. Carson, down on his luck after having mistakenly shot an undercover cop, finds himself the night watchman at the place, a job which, a la Jack Torrance's caretaker gig in The Shining, seems harmless enough, but then (gasp) bad things start happening. In fact, the whole trope of an evil place possessing its inhabitants is yet another cliché which can be added to the only partial list above.
While Mirrors, again like The Shining, attempts to give an otherworldly, demonic explanation for all the nefarious goings on, it has none of the slowly building terror that marked Kubrick's entrée into the genre, while maintaining the King piece's lugubrious tempo. How many times can we watch Sutherland, complete with X Files flashlight, roam the blackened bowels of the Mayflower, only to encounter either a quick cut to an unexpected vision in a mirror, or, similarly, a jolt inducing "thunk" in the soundtrack? Quite a few times, evidently director Alexandre Aja thinks.
Sutherland is his usual resolute self, in full Jack Bauer mode, which makes some of his actions unexpectedly hilarious. When he storms into his estranged wife's house and begins painting the mirrors, you half expect him to turn and announce, "This is the longest day of my life." Sutherland has an unusual proclivity for bringing a rather neat amount of intellectualism to even the stupidest roles, but here he's just left to flounder in the watery morass of the Mayflower's basement.
Playing out against the slowness and Sutherland's extremely earnest Method Acting is the blood and guts aspect of the film, and that aspect is indeed messy and quite disturbing at times. Whether we are watching Carson's hapless predecessor kill himself quite graphically by slicing his neck open with a shard of broken mirror glass, or seeing a comely lass have her jaw forcibly removed, Aja goes for the gusto in these scenes, leaving nothing to the imagination. Again, while this may present squirm-worthy moments, with at least a passing level of putative scariness, they're so over the top that they may in fact elicit unintentional giggles from the more jaded members of the audience.
There's really no logic to Mirrors, despite semi-valiant attempts to provide a backstory for what's really going on. When Carson slowly uncovers the link to the supposed mystery, revolving around the not exactly Rosebud-esque word "Esseker," you may feel like you've been magically transported from The Shining's Overlook Hotel to Regan's Georgetown bedroom in The Exorcist. Again, hilarity ensues, but I doubt that was Aja's intention. Slight spoiler alert: Esseker turns out to be the name of a nun who holds the key to it all. Now, nuns can be funny enough at times (and I went to a parochial school, so, yes, I know they can be scary, too), but possessed nuns, well that's something else entirely, and Mirrors takes the idea to a predictably hyperbolic segment.
Some astute filmmaker needs to get back to the basic idea that the audience's imagination can provide far more chills and thrills if they're left to their own devices, without everything being spelled out for them in bloody detail. Sutherland's innate intelligence makes for an outright ironic counterpoint to the absolute stupidity that is Mirrors.
Mirrors Blu-ray, Video Quality
Mirrors arrives with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio via an AVC codec, and sports an extremely grainy image that should delight all detractors of DNR. Aja can't be faulted for the film's nicely gritty look, which emphasizes the dark and dastardly goings-on at the Mayflower. While black levels are slightly inconsistent, for the most part contrast is extremely strong, giving a nice amount of black pop to the many shadowy scenes throughout the film. A lot of Mirrors plays out in the sort of cold, blue palette that some will associate with forensic television fare like CSI, and this Blu-ray reproduces that admirably. The entire color scheme here is really rather subdued, so those looking for an eye-popping experience are probably going to be disappointed.
Mirrors Blu-ray, Audio Quality
On the other hand, the DTS HD-MA 5.1 mix is one of the most impressively immersive I've experienced recently. While it relies too heavily on gimmicks like sudden loud noises to provide scares that aren't otherwise in the film, the mix is excellently dimensional and one of the more directional in recent memory. Everything from the sudden flap of a bird's wings (amped up to of course provide a startle or two) to the slow creaking of a spooky door is rendered with clarity and some extremely impressive dynamic range. LFE, especially in the denouement, is quite impressive as well, giving a rattling-good time to the subwoofer. Also available are DD 5.1 mixes in Spanish and French.
Mirrors Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Quite a few bonuses augment the main feature, which is presented in both its original theatrical version and (heaven help us) its extended director's cut (emphasis on cut). Unfortunately only one brief one minute extra, an animated storyboard, is in high definition. The SD supplements include "Anna Esseker-Hospital Footage," (6 mins.) an extended flashback sequence providing more detail into the key to the mystery's childhood; "Reflections: The Making of Mirrors," an above average 50 minute featurette that at least admits the filmmakers were thinking of this as a sort of quasi-sequel to The Shining, as absurd as that may sound; "Behind the Mirror," (18 mins.), a rather interesting, if sometimes silly, aggregation of folklore about the resident evil (evil, do you hear me?) in mirrors; and 16 minutes of deleted/alternate scenes. Do not make the mistake I did when first toggling through the menu options—Bonus View is not available on the extended cut, despite that menu option being listed there (how stupid is that?). I actually thought I needed a firmware update for a while until I realized that Bonus View was available only on the theatrical cut. Two Bonus View options are available, one showing a storyboard to screen comparison and another offering a PIP commentary with Aja and screenwriter Gregory Levasseur. A digital copy of the film is also provided.
Mirrors Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
You probably won't want to reflect too much on Mirrors (sorry, couldn't resist). Predictable, formulaic and overly gory a lot of the time, it leaves nothing to the imagination while traversing a too oft-traveled filmic path.
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Mirrors Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Mirrors 2 Blu-ray Announced - July 27, 2010
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has announced Mirrors 2 for Blu-ray release on October 19. This direct-to-video sequel to the psychological thriller Mirrors will come out in a BD/DVD combo and include Into the Mirror (Geoul sokeuro), the 2003 Korean film ...
• Today on Blu-ray - January 13 - January 13, 2009
After an exciting CES 2009 - drooling over the latest Blu-ray hardware and software advancements - we are back to reality: Blu-ray releases. The latest sales data indicates that for the week following Christmas, Blu-ray took a record 16% of the home media disc ...
• Mirrors Gets Detailed for Blu-ray - October 31, 2008
Fox Home Entertainment has announced the technical specs and special features for the upcoming Blu-ray release of 'Mirrors: Unrated', which is due to hit store shelves on January 13th. Video for this Kiefer Sutherland horror film will be presented in 2.40:1 1080p ...
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