Writer-director Alexandre Aja, along with his co-writer Gregory Levasseur, had been cruising along, showing promise within the horror genre, until (cue overwrought score) the mirrors got hold of him. Their film Mirrors is another remake of an Asian horror movie imbuing everyday objects with ghostly menace. In this case, the objects are, yes, mirrors -- specifically (but not limited to) the mirrors in a run-down New York department store. Of course, jump-scares involving sudden appearances in mirrors have been a cheap horror tactic for years, so this is a little like making a horror movie about murderous loud noises.
Ben (Kiefer Sutherland) is a newly-hired night security guard at that department store, and during his patrols he's been seeing disturbing stuff in the mirrors -- charred bodies, horrible wounds, people screaming for help. This seems like an excellent time to slack a bit at work and hang back in his security trailer, but Ben persists with an investigation. Article continues below
Before he actually gets anywhere, we spend a lot of time with the Sutherland character, who seems frustrated over his inability to torture his way through this wan mystery. His grim overacting recalls eighties action heroes, with a pinch of Shatner thrown in for good measure, as he anguishes over his estranged wife and kids. The idea is that no one believes this disgraced cop and recovering alcoholic when he talks about the evil mirrors, but the movie doesn't bother with a shred of ambiguity to make all of the yelling and emoting more interesting for the audience. Eventually other characters realize Ben is telling the truth, and the story picks up a little, but only halfheartedly.
Apart from a bit of creepy imagery, Mirrors is tedious, and an odd choice for a director whose movies, good or bad, tend to set their sights far over the top. Stripped of much of his usual energy and viscera, Aja doesn't appear to have much facility for character-driven suspense -- he simply punctuates the slow-creep-plus-jump-scare formula with a handful of his trademark grotesqueries.
This places the movie in a strange realm between turgid PG-13 horror and excessive R-rated gorehounding, where the former shakes itself awake with a little of the latter. It's actually rated R but, unlike Aja's previous films, it doesn't seem fully committed, like an "unrated" DVD version of itself. Or maybe it's like an evil reflection of itself in a haunted mirror that causes the original movie to cut itself up. If that sounds even remotely spooky, Mirrors still probably won't do much for you.