In our Second Chance cinema strand, Moviescramble casts its eyes over the 2008 horror film Mirrors.

In terms of critical acclaim horror films are generally given a bit of a kicking. Most reviewers tend to dismiss the genre as a whole and do not appraise the film as an individual entity. This tends not to happen in most other types of film out there. One film to suffer this fate was the 2008 film Mirrors from Director Alexandre Aja.

The film is the tale of a an ex New York cop, Ben Carson (Kiefer Sutherland) who has just started working as a nightwatchman.  Ben is currently suspended from the force due to his involvement in the killing of a man during a shooting incident. The time since has been rough for him with his marriage falling apart and his drinking increasing to the point where it is a problem for him and those around him. He is now trying to straighten himself out. He is sleeping on his sister’s couch and has just started the job as a nightwatchman at the site of a large department store in Central New York. The store went up in flames several years before and has lain untouched ever since due to legal disputes over insurance. Ben got the job in the first place after the violent death of the previous employee, as played out in the opening scenes of the film. The building is creepy enough during the daytime with everything wrecked and charred except for the mirrors which the previous employee was obsessed with keeping clean. During the night the place is even more imposing. Soon after Ben starts the job odd things start to happen. He has odd, frightening visions and comes across strange, unexplained sights like hand prints on the inside of the large mirrors that appear to be everywhere within the department store. When he receives a worrying package from the dead former employee, that he never met, and his estranged family start to have creepy experiences with mirrors, Ben realises that something is seriously wrong and he must get to the root of the strangeness.

think you missed a bit Kiefer

This film was treated a bit unfarily at the time of release. It is a remake of a Korean film , Into The Mirror. It got caught up in the debate around remaking foreign language  films rather than expecting a US audience to watch and read at the same time. This film was seen as being the film to launch the Director into the big time. Alexandre Aja was previously responsible for the cult hits Switchblade Romance and the remake of The Hills have Eyes. With an A list star in place to star and a reasonably large budget a lot was expected. It was not to be with this release. It would not be until his next release, Piranha 3D in 2010 that the director would get the International hit expected here.

The film is actually very good. It is an atmospheric piece with plenty of creepiness throughout. The sense of being watched is with you at all times and the film moves along at a swift pace keeping you interested throughout. The set design is excellent with the burned out department store looking imposing with fire debris and half melted showroom dummies throughout. Kiefer Sutherland, although convincing as the cop, shows in several scenes that this film was made in between seasons of 24. I don’t know if I am just over familiar with his acting style as a fan of the 24 or Kiefer finds it hard to turn off certain mannerisms when that is all he does for nine months of the year. He slips into a few dammits!! and a couple of quiet, shouty, Intense quiets which are very reminiscent of a certain Mr Bauer. Still it did not distract too much from the story. The film itself is split into two parts with the suspense being the focus of the first before the more action / horror aspect of the second half takes us to the inevitable final confrontation that is the feature of all horror films. There is more than enough to keep everyone entertained.

Overall an overlooked horror film that deserves a bit more love than it got on release. Recommended.

John McArthur
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