Tuesday, September 30, 2008

MIRRORS WITH SPOILERS - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW



Expectations can make or break a film. Lately I have been exploring the dark side of expectations. I have been going into films that I know completely suck, and having a good time with them. THE BANK JOB is an example of this. There is no argument that THE BANK JOB sucked. I went in expecting suck, and was mildly surprised by it. I found the experience enjoyable. I tackled MIRRORS in a similar fashion. But sometimes, suck is suck, and there is no way to redeem the absolute suck that is present.

MIRRORS which made 29 million in the theatres is going to make probably just as much in its DVD release. How is it that this film was given this chance? FELON, starring Stephen Dorff, Val Kilmer and Sam Shepard is superior to MIRRORS on all fronts, yet it went straight to video. The movie distribution question will always puzzle me. The chances of stumbling across a movie like FELON in your travels are rather limited. The chance of stumbling across MIRRORS a few months ago was a FOREGONE CONCLUSION. I couldn’t escape the trailers and the advertising blitz. How does a movie like MIRRORS catch the big cinematic pass and other, superior films get stuck in the straight to video grind? This question plagued me all the way through my viewing of MIRRORS.

The key to watching MIRRORS is to remember that it got incredibly low ratings. Remember that the critics disemboweled this film and slathered its intestines across the road as a warning for all headed in that direction. With such a warning, and a careful step over the film’s dirt-covered spleen, you might have a good time with it. If you read this review in its entirety, you probably won’t.

The opening credits are mesmerizing as the New York cityscape is mirrored against itself in all sorts of different ways. It is beautiful. Then the story girds its loins and gives you a pretty uncomfortable, improbable, barely-adhering-to-the-plot neck slashing.

Next we meet Ben Carson (Keifer Sutherland), a grizzled ex-cop who is working through his alcoholism, job loss and a marriage separation. Ben gets a job guarding an old department store that was burned down (with a ridiculous body-count) and the story is underway.

The title of the movie is “MIRRORS,” so we all know that it is a matter of time before the mirrors start to act up, and they do. Lots of loud noises and quick edits make scenes that in and of themselves wouldn’t be frightworthy downright uncomfortable.

Soon, the evil in the mirrors contacts Ben Carson and sends him looking for someone named ESSEKER to solve its problem. Ben also notices that the Department store was built over an insane asylum that is still (with mirrors)intact. This is a blatant nod to POLTERGEIST. And if you know POLTERGEIST, then you know that the evil that has been built over needs to be assuaged. The rest of the film is geared in this direction.

The stupid-horror-film tics mount as Ben shoots his gun at mirrors in the department store and the holes close, but when he tries to do this in front of his wife and kids, the holes remain there, and Ben looks completely out of his mind.

Ben also has a habit of seeing reflections turn and say things to him while he is with other people. This is fine, but he does so much jumping and screaming, that the over the top recoil and then apologies afterward are downright stupid.

Ben’s sister gets attacked while doing her obligatory nude scene. It makes me question the value of Amy Smart as an actor. She had so much promise back in the early 90s when she was in STARSHIP TROOPERS for thirty seconds. The attack on Amy Smart has been done better and with less of a budget. Most recently, that method of killing was seen in HATCHET, and let me tell you, the HATCHET was much more memorable.

Ben’s estranged family starts taking strange mirror attacks as he gets closer and closer to the truth. The parallels between Ben’s son and the mirror creatures to Carol Anne in POLTERGEIST is so blatant that I probably shouldn’t type about it anymore.

If this evil entity in the mirror was actually observing Ben’s life, it would realize that the attacks on his wife and kids are counter productive. In the name of cheesy, over-budgeted CG horror, the assaults continue. Ben’s wife also suffers from serious continuity errors with wounds on her face that appear and disappear for no reason.

*SPOILERS FROM NOW ON*

Esseker is the name of a little girl with acute schizophrenia. She was committed to the madhouse under the department store that burned out. Through a series of quick edits that were done better and more skillfully in 13 GHOSTS we learn that her treatment worked. She was put into a room with mirrors for a period of time and the evil left her and jumped into the mirrors. Now that evil wants her back. Ben does some research and calls in some library favors and learns that all of the patients were killed and Esseker died in that mass murder. There is a dirty cat and mouse/red-herring plate served and soon we learn that Esseker isn’t dead! Esseker is now a super-nun at some monastery that has no mirrors! Ben has to bring her back to the department store by gunpoint to bring this painful third act to a close.

This third act is the most irritating of the whole film. Of course, the evil jumps back into the Esseker the nun, and of course she now has the power of a power lifter with a belly full of Red Bulls. Ben is thrown through wall after wall and pumps bullet after bullet into this muscled, EXORCIST-throwback nun. After explosions and the virtual collapse of all mirrors within a specific area of New York city, the battle ends. Esseker must be dead, though we don’t get to see her corpse. This leaves a seriously brain-damaged door open for MIRRORS2.

The last scene hearkens to better horror films. Ben steps into the light and looks at the police and rubberneckers. Then it dawns upon him that they can’t see him. As he looks about, he realizes that everything around him is opposite and backwards. He is actually in the mirror reality. Seriously, what does this mean? Ben is now in a mirror dimension? How does he get out? Is there an actual explanation to all of this? The ending is pretty, but broken. It is a nod to superior movies that recognize that the evil has won. I am reminded of just about any zombie movie I have seen in my lifetime. The MIRRORS ending is possibly worth the 90 or so minutes that you will suffer through. The ending will most likely fail for you though, because now that you are expecting this weak and contrived conclusion. I went in with no expectations and no spoilers. I can’t say the same for you though.

MIRRORS received horrible reviews across the board. Going in with the lowest expectations made this film slightly enjoyable. This is a film that had a budget. The FX are solid. The shots are good too. However, knowing the “lowest-expectations secret” damns you to an unenjoyable experience. The upshot is that I have taken the bullet for you. Don’t bother with MIRRORS, this is some of the worst crap on the market.

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