Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.


Review by Matthew Starr

French director Alexandre Aja is one of the few directors still putting some life into the decaying genre that is horror. I consider High Tension to be the greatest horror film in the last ten years, and The Hills Have Eyes remake was superior to Craven’s original. In terms of filmmaking ability, he is head-and-shoulders above any of the other members of the splat pack that includes Eli Roth, Rob Zombie and James Wan (among others).

Aja’s latest film stars Kiefer Sutherland as Ben Carson, a retired police officer who is currently working as a security guard in a department store. On the very first night, he is made aware that not all is right with the abandoned mall that had been set ablaze by a former security guard. He is seeing images in the mirrors that are not there in reality. The evil that is present in the mirrors continues to up the ante and he eventually learns that it is trying to reach out to someone.

Mirrors seems like an unfinished product. The opening scene grabs your attention, although by no means is it anything classic:  in this scene, the film introduces the security guard working there prior to Ben, who is then not heard from again. I found this to be a very disappointing aspect of what was a very muddled script, which seemed to be one of those scripts where the writers were looking for any means necessary to push the story forward to the next loud scare or gory scene, as opposed to letting such the horror come naturally to the evolving plot.

On top of all that, there wasn’t much gore in the first place.  Or, come to that, many scares at all. Outside of the opening scene (as well as the scene with Amy Smart that was showcased in the trailer), I can’t recall anything particularly disturbing or memorable.. Whenever the best scene of a horror film is shown in a preview, that is automatic red flag to the potential depth of a film. Alfred Hitchcock certainly didn’t need to show the shower scene in the preview for Psycho.

The performance from Kiefer is satisfactory, as usual. I can’t say the same for the rest of the cast. Amy Smart’s character was poorly written, and Paula Patton doesn’t bring anything of interest to the table as Kiefer’s ex. High Tension and The Hills Have Eyes weren’t exactly the sharpest of scripts, but I was interested in the characters and the plot kept moving forward comfortably. Plus, Aja did what he does best in those films, which is create tension, something M. Night Shyamalan used to do before the wheels came off of his career). There is very little tension in Mirrors and it unfortunately becomes more of a puzzle-solving film towards the end.

I can hope that this isn’t the beginning of Aja selling out to the American idea of horror (that idea being remakes, loud and sudden scares, convoluted plots, and twist endings).  God knows we don’t need more of that.

2 ½ / 5 stars

Review by Matthew Frendo

Wow.  I was straight up not expecting Mirrors to be this, well, great.  I saw Alexandre Aja's High Tension in an extremely inebriated state a few years back (and didn't think much of it), and saw the beginning of his The Hills Have Eyes remake, but never cared to finish it.  Because of Mirrors, I will have to revisit his first two movies, as my initial analysis may have been completely wrong (and yes, I am big enough to admit my mistakes…well, some anyway).

Kiefer Sutherland stars as a police detective (currently suspended from duty), an ex-alcoholic who is working as a security guard for an abandoned department store to make ends meet.  He's split from his wife (played to gorgeous delight by Paula Patton) and his children, and is currently living on his sister's couch.  It turns out the place he got hired to secure has some extremely disturbing things going on at night, mainly dealing with, you guessed it, the mirrors.  The horror that haunts him almost immediately goes after his family, which is where the “fun” starts. 

The main aspect of Mirrors, which sets it apart from the pack, is the seriousness of the film itself.  I mean this in two ways:  the first is in literal seriousness.  I cannot remember one example of the comedic relief all too prevalent in today's "scary" movies.  It is dark the whole way through, never giving the audience the chance to relax.  The second is the way Aja obviously took horror as a serious genre (and not just a means to do a different type of movie later on).  Truth is, most of Hollywood's post-Scream horror outings have a self-referential sense about them, in which they try to be fun, or overly witty about the genre (as if they take it for granted that no one believes what is going on…and given most horror plot lines as of late, they have every right to).  Mirrors is a very serious horror film and, possibly due to that seriousness, the "twist" at the end is far more believable.  This is horror filmmaking as opposed to mere moviemaking.  This is horror as an art form.

While it does have some quibbles (for example, why does an abandoned and burned department store need a night watchman?), these are small compared to the far-higher-in-number good points of the film.  With one of the best scores I've heard in recent months and one cataclysmic sequence near the end set to said score (trying not to give anything away, I'll just say the most destructive scene) being one of the most beautiful shots I've seen in a frightening movie, Mirrors is far and away the best horror film I've seen in quite some time.   This is one any true horror fan needs to desperately see.  And I need to watch his older flicks (already spent the cash picking them up the day after Mirrors) to see what the hell I missed…

4 / 5 stars

Comments (0):

  • No comments found.
Post a New Comment
Your Name:
Your Email: