Horror is pretty much my least favorite genre, as it’s so difficult to get this kind of film right. I usually prefer stories that are scary because they actually could happen (like Silence of the Lambs) more than stories that are all about blood and gore (Nightmare on Elm Street, etc.) I typically don’t care for anything that makes heavy use of supernatural elements, but again, the result can be good when done the right way (think The Exorcist).
So when I heard about Mirrors, which is a horror film about haunted/possessed mirrors, I was very skeptical about how well the story would play out on screen. It was pretty much a given that I wouldn’t be scared because of the real-life possibilities of the plot, so that left it up to the actors to sell the film to me. Surprisingly enough, I thought they did a decent job!
Plot summary (with possible spoilers): Ben Carson (played by Kiefer Sutherland) is a NYPD detective who is on leave after being involved in a shooting. He has been off the force for a year alread, and in that time, his life has basically come apart. He’s had problems with alcohol, is still taking painkillers, and is estranged from wife Amy (Paula Patton) and children Michael (Cameron Boyce) and Daisy (Erica Gluck). He currently lives with his sister Angela (Amy Smart), and, in an effort to get back on his feet, has taken a job as a night security guard at the Mayflower department store, which is closed because of a fire.
One of the strangest characteristics of the Mayflower is that it’s full of mirrors, and all of the mirrors are spotless and polished. That’s because the previous night watchman, Gary Lewis (Josh Cole) was obsessed with keeping those things clean — until something drove him to slash his own throat with shards of glass from a subway bathroom mirror.
During Ben’s first night on the job, he notices something strange about the mirrors in the Mayflower. In them, he sees reflections of things that aren’t there. Moreover, all of the scenes show people being treated horribly or suffering from ghastly injuries. Ben doesn’t know what’s going on, but he’s compelled to do research. This leads to the discovery that the Mayflower used to be a mental hospital run by a less-than-ethical doctor who purposely mistreated patients.
Once the possessed being in the mirrors tries to go after Ben’s family, all bets are off. Kiefer kicks into full Jack Bauer mode to get to the bottom of the mystery and save his loved ones. This involves tracking down an old patient of the mental hospital who supposedly died but is actually still alive. Apparently, the mirrors have a score to settle with her, and won’t rest until they get that final confrontation.
My Reaction: On the surface, the plot of Mirrors sounds downright dumb. A demonic spirit that lives in mirrors and takes control of people’s reflections, forcing them to kill themselves? Uh huh. I’m seriously surprised that any studio gave this project the green light.
That being said, I am equally surprised at how well the story played out on screen. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of eye-roll moments in this movie, as well as several “Yeah, right!” scenes, but despite all that, I still found myself engrossed in the story for the most part. Even though the plot didn’t make much sense (I’m still not certain why the mirrors were after the nun), Kiefer Sutherland made the whole thing watchable. Yes, he basically played Jack Bauer in this one (even down to a few disgusted shouts of “Dammit!” exactly like Jack), but that’s what he does best.
I’ve read on a few message boards that some people didn’t like the ending, but I did. Frankly, I’m tired of seeing ordinary men turn into indestructible superheroes in Hollywood films, so it was nice to see someone actually feel the effects of a fight for once.
Overall, Mirrors is worth a watch. Yeah, the plot is outlandish and you could probably poke a thousand holes in the screenwriters’ logic, but suspension of disbelief (x10) is a prerequisite for watching horror films. I give this one 3 out of 5.