Like hitting up the carnival fun house with a belly full of mushrooms ready to turn ugly, there’s just something inherently goofy, buffoonish, and maybe even wrong about paying to see Jack Bauer scream at his own reflection for an hour and a half. Unfortunately, that kooky premise and a vaguely M.C. Escher-esque title sequence are pretty much all that separate Mirrors from every tired, outdated should have been straight to DVD horror sleeper we’ve all groaned at ad nauseum since The Ring made a bagillion dollars.
Ben Carson (Kiefer Sutherland) is an out of work, former police officer who takes a night watchmen job at a creepy, burned down department store to help support his estranged wife (Paula Patton) and two children. He loads himself up with prescription drugs to ward off the urge to drink and begins seeing heinous images in the some eighty thousand odd mirrors inside the abandoned building. At first he, along with everyone watching, hasn’t the slightest idea what’s transpiring, but thanks to a script page possibly stolen from PBS’ long-cancelled and forgotten Ghostwriter, it becomes apparent he needs to find a young girl released from a mental hospital decades earlier.
Surprise surprise. After a Little Red Riding Hood-like quest for the girl and a not-so-shocking reconciliation with his wife, Ben re-enters the department store for an epic final battle, more video game than motion picture and some sort of resolution is reached.
It’s not that Mirrors is a bad film--per say. It’s just pointless, lacking in originality, and prone to shooting itself in the glass. There’s a plethora of good through-the-mirror camera shots, but they get overused and weak by the end. There’s a realistic use of the language one might implement if ever confronted with haunting doppelgangers residing in an abandoned building, but the swear words often seem forced and come out a little too big budget catchphrase-y. And there’s even a look at Amy Smart’s unmentionables to keep the bored and irritated male interested, but her boobs, just like her entire role in this film, seem more to fill her obligatory gratuitous nude scene quota for 2008 than facilitate any imperative plot movement.
At a basic, unchallenging level, Mirrors works. It’s sure to haunt and frighten folks looking to have a jumpy good time, but it never strives for more than just superficial background noise. The whole film feels a little borrowed and worn--and not even from groundbreaking movies. A character dies in almost the exact same way as Billy Bedlam from Con Air. Faucets are mysteriously turned on in a possible ode to Harry and Marv from Home Alone. The film even manages to squeeze in creaky doors, unidentified hand prints, and a pale, adolescent chick--the unholy triumvirate of horror movie fallback scares.
If you were planning to see Mirrors this weekend, don’t let this review stop you. Bring a cute girl and some Bunch-a-Crunch. It’ll fulfill the shallowest of expectations and maybe even lead to some impromptu hand holding or post-movie fooling around, but don’t complain when you realize you could have gotten the same cheap thrill for two dollars at Blockbuster. After twenty-one years, Kiefer Sutherland has returned to his horror movie roots, but viewer beware, he’s brought less ingenuity, less vampires, and way less Corey Feldman.