Mirrors Review

If the world is coming to an end, who you gonna call? Jack Bauer rides again in this tepid horror

The Film

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It’s difficult moving out of your father’s shadow, especially if your father is Donald Sutherland. When you are young you can try to do lots of things that dad wouldn’t, and even if you drop down to the small screen perhaps you’ll be a huge success and stand respected in your own right. Or you may find that your limited skills become more obvious the more you age, and as your abilities dwindle you find yourself looking even more like the man that you have described as one of the greatest film actors of all time. Perhaps this thought will make you cautious so that when you make the step up to the big screen again you will simply rest on your TV laurels and control a project so it simply builds on your established public persona.

Mirrors is Jack Bauer gets a fright. With a very clichéd screenplay – Sutherland’s character is an ex-cop with a drink problem and a bad marriage- the stress is placed on putting some familiar attributes of 24 within an adaptation of a Korean spookfest. The world is coming to an end and the only man able to take on the horror of spooks trapped in a cage of glass will do it by beating the clock, racing along the freeway and taking simple no-nonsense actions that may ruin a few people’s lives but they’re not his family so who cares.
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Like in 24, Sutherland is paired with women who are terribly attractive, practically useless, and the subject of the mayhem around him. His sister here is played by someone who looks young enough to be his daughter who leashes her wisdom of the world upon craggy, saggy Kiefer from behind the comfort of her bar(of all the jobs to take when your brother is an alcoholic, really!). For an alcoholic with a bad marriage, Kiefer is in fact the most sober and responsible family man you could ever meet. In fact it is only when Kiefer is faced with the impending destruction of his wife and kids that he angrily utters an mild obscenity, and when further aggravated by the spectral image of his mangled sister in his driver’s mirror he rages and manages a “shit”. For a man at the end of his rope, Kiefer/Jack/whoever is very well behaved.

The real tragedy of Mirrors is the continuing fate of Alexandre Aja. Some would argue that his wonderful Haute Tension was more than a little like the TV movie of Dean Koontz’s Intensity, and then he retooled The Hills Have Eyes before attacking another remake here. Aja proves he is no good at making a chiller, and proves that his strength is adrenaline pumped killers and vicious violence. His best moments in the film are the ones most out of place – he throws his star’s reserve into paradox when he does away with one annoying family member, and the final scenes of pursuit and destruction, complete with a little twist, outshine the rest of the work on show.
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Mirrors is a poor likeness of the director’s début, a distorted reflection on the lead’s TV persona and, well, it is frankly mediocre. Perhaps Aja is better off with more violence and more of a transgressive tone, perhaps Sutherland’s executive producer credit explains the similarities of character between the free world’s thug of choice and his man here, and perhaps the whole affair proves little other than jolly silly with a couple of moments that suggest a good project was aborted along the way.

Transfer and Sound

Mirrors is presented in 2.35:1 with pin sharp images and plenty in the way of detail, even in the darkest sequences. The film itself has a very sun kissed appearance in the exterior scenes and flesh tones often appear bright with a strong yellow hue. Contrast has to be strong for all the darkness, and shades seem excellent with whites very clean and blacks inky. There’s quite a bit of grain and a few compression artefacts, but nothing to be too concerned with.
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Along with some standard definition European language tracks we get an English descriptive track, well done Fox, and the lossless Master Audio mix. There’s plenty of oomph in the chase sequences, and the atmospheric effects are deployed all around the mix with dialogue also allowed to travel around the speakers as well. The action scenes have some aggression from the LFE track and plenty of coverage around the soundtsage, and any lack of impact for the scares is not the fault of this sound option.

Discs and Special Features

This is a region B locked BD50 disc which offers two cuts of the film. I haven’t compared the two cuts in detail but there is only 10 seconds difference in running time so any differences must be slight. Both of the cuts of the film can be watched with the Bonusview option switched on if your player is capable. This picture in picture feature offers the directors thoughts throughout the film, comparisons with storyboards and some footage apparently – it would work on my player, but the option to watch these insertions separately is also offered.

The first of the featurettes is a dialogue free sequence deleted from the film covering the history of the old department store(I won’t say more so as to avoid spoilers). Next up is an unfathomably long making of piece which, very much in the fashion of such things, treats the film like it was the Bicycle Thief and Aja’s frankly deranged wrong-headedness goes completely unchecked. We learn that the director took the project wanting to make something like The Shining, that he didn’t know it was a remake,he recounts a priceless exchange between himself and Sutherland on their collaboration – “I’m taking care of the drama, you look after the scares”! Cast and crew contribute and the French crew are actually subtitled when they are speaking in English.

The final featurette looks into the meaning of mirrors in literature and folklore, with academics hauled in to lend credence to Aja’s continued nonsense. The pretence that this is a film with depth and historical significance is kept up throughout, and it is pretty difficult to sit through because of that undeserved reverent tone.

Much more to my taste was an animated storyboard covering the bathtub scene which is in 1080P. The deleted and alternate scenes include different endings and longer exposition at the film’s start which may have helped the film in terms of coherence and better pacing. I wasn’t entirely convinced that the actual choices in the finished film improved much other than run time.

Finally weblinks to a variety of Fox sites are included


Some good visceral touches can’t make up for the hedging of bets and dull cliché, the Blu-ray is a nice transfer and if you really believe this is a work of art then you may even like the absurd extras.

John White

Updated: Apr 19, 2009

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