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Horror film by Alexandre Aja (remake of a Korean Horror film)

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Decent, but Flawed...Based on the Korean Horror Film "Into The Mirror"

  • Jan 14, 2009

Produced by Korean filmmaker Eun Young-Kim and directed by Alexandre Aja (Haute Tension), "MIRRORS" isn't exactly an official remake of the South Korean horror film "Into the Mirror" (aka. Geoul Sakeuro, 2003, directed by Sung-Ho Kim) but it does have pretty strong similarities (most specially the opening credits) since it is based on the Asian horror film. The "Americanization" of Asian Horror films are usually a miss more than a hit--with Aja at the helm as director, Eastern subtlety, slow suggestive, methodical creepiness is replaced by aggressive, grand displays of special effects--such a show-off approach does improve on the original when it comes to pace but doesn't necessarily make it a better film.

Ben Carson (Keifer Sutherland, "24") is a problematic ex-cop, he has a estranged relationship with his wife, Amy (sexy Paula Patton), has two kids and he is bunking with his baby sister Angela (sexy Amy Smart) until he gets back on his feet. Ben gets a job as a watchman in a burnt out department store called "Mayflower". Strangely, the burnt out store has unusually well-preserved mirrors--there is something sinister about them. When your reflection dies in the mirror, then you suffer the same fate. Demons from the past want something from everyone who had ever taken the job as night watchman--now, Ben must get to the bottom of the mystery of "Esseker", before it is too late to save himself and his family….

With Alexandre Aja at the helm as director, then the expectations from horror fans will be expectedly a little high. I suppose the best way to approach "Mirrors" is by lowering your expectations. Aja cleverly only keeps the opening act, the climax, and the main premise from "Into the Mirror". This U.S. unrated version is more visceral and does have more blood and gore than the original. "Into the Mirror" does have a relevant social commentary that added some essential "meat" to its plot. However, the original also does have quite a number of dull moments and too many missed opportunities, with a subplot that is totally underdeveloped. Aja's approach is kept simple, it approaches a more visceral and violent approach with more effective use of special effects. The computer-generated set designs in the American version is also a lot creepier than the brightly lit, newly re-opened store in the Korean version.

The main premise of "Mirrors" and "Into the Mirror", you guessed it, are mirrors. There are legends involving mirrors as another walkthrough to an alternate world, and that mirrors can used to capture hidden "demonic" entities. This legend was partly touched on in the opening act of "Constantine" and this film further expends on this premise. The plot also hits on some medical theories about schizophrenia and demonic possession. The laws of the "mirrors" may not be totally defined or fleshed out in this film but it does provide a good idea for a scary experience.

The problems with "Mirrors" begin with the script and the dialogue. Considering the assumed limits of Aja's English knowledge, the dialogue is pretty much obligatory and very dry. Also, the part with Ben's estranged relationship with his wife Amy is too perfunctory. I'm not sure, Sutherland managed to express some emotions but the style is too similar to his "Jack Bauer" portrayal that makes the "meant to be" scary scenes a little funny with a predictable climax after the encounter with the nightmarish ghoul. I really felt as if Aja meant for it to be this way but ended up hampering the film a little. The family tension also overstays its welcome after awhile and Ben‘s trip to the backwoods was too formulaic and too reminiscent of Asian horror films. I rather thought that the powerful social criticism and the subtle doses of satire in the Korean version may have assisted the film's screenplay.

Despite the uninspired script, the film is competently directed. I was impressed as to how Aja managed the shots, I would imagine that it would be a little difficult to shoot a film with a lot of mirrors (thank goodness for CGI) and Aja's set designs were creepy enough. The set ups for the gore scenes were well-directed and the film does have its share of unsettling images. The film's greatest strengths will have to be the opening scene, the one with mangled jaw, the scenes with young Anna Esseker and Ben's first night in the burnt out building; accompanied by an ominous score by Javier Navarrete, the film does have its suspenseful moments.

"Mirrors" is a more decent attempt at an Asian horror re-imagining despite its many flaws and the weaknesses of the script. I was just disappointed that the mythos of the mirrors themselves and of doppelgangers weren't more efficiently explored and settled to just become one more "visually inspired" horror experience. The climax is also very predictable. "Mirrors" is perfectly watchable although it is definitely forgettable and wouldn't stand out.

Recommended with caution to horror maniacs, but a RENTAL to experienced viewers. [3 Stars]

Bathtub scene Paula Patton as Amy Keifer and Amy Smart scene Dvd cover

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July 17, 2010
Yeah man I felt the same way, this could have been so much more.
More Mirrors reviews
review by . February 19, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*1/2 out of ****          After hearing of how horrible Alexandre Aja's "Mirrors" apparently was, I just had to see the thing for myself. I mean, what can I say? Mirror demons who feed on your life as you know it….well, that's just an awesome concept right there. But it's the execution that matters, and Alexandre Aja worried me with that. And in the end, my worries were reality. Aja essentially DID ruin an awesome concept by making a never-boring yet poorly …
review by . July 05, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
      MIRRORS      I would not say that this is the best horror movie I have ever seen or that this is one of the best horror movies to come out nowadays, but I will say that it is one of the best to be released theatrically these days. I have read a lot of things about this movie ranging from classic to horrible and I have to say that I find this film to be some where in the middle. This was in no part a bad movie in fact it is a really fun watch for those …
review by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
What Pompted You to write a Review?   A survey     How was the Plot, Acting, Direction?   This movie I thought was very well directed with good acting.  I was not expecting it to be as good as it was.  It was actually scary and had a good story line to it.     Were You ENTERTAINED?   I was very entertained while watching this movie.  It had me sitting on the edge of my seat the whole time!     Did It Fulfill …
review by . August 18, 2009
I actually really like horror but this is basically as unpleasant as it gets. It pulls many CGi shock effects (rather than the more classic camera moves). But fundamentally this is a dark film that strives to make the audience miserable - and succeeds. Even writing a review seems to justify this film, which I detest doing.       Apart from the fact that the plot is flimsy, the characters are 1-dimensional, and there are no redeeming elements, the antigonist is …
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Mirrors is a 2008 horror film directed by Alexandre Aja, and stars Kiefer Sutherland. The film was first titled Into the Mirror, but the name was later changed to Mirrors.[citation needed] Filming began on May 1, 2007, and it was released in American theaters on August 15, 2008.
The film was originally scripted as a remake of the 2003 South Korean horror film Into the Mirror which is rated PG. However, once Aja was brought on board and read the script, he was dissatisfied with the particulars of the original film's story. He decided to retain the original film's basic idea involving mirrors, and to incorporate a few of its scenes, but otherwise crafted a new story and script for his version of the movie.[1] Mirrors is the first Aja film to achieve an R rating without the need for scenes to be cut.
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