Blu Ray Review: Mirrors
Studio: 20th Century Fox
DVD Release Date: January 13, 2009
Directed By: Alexandre Aja
Cast: Keifer Sutherland, Paula Patton, Amy Smart, Cameron Boyce, Mary Beth Peil
Brutal As Hell Rating: 3 ½ out of 5 stars
Review By: Dustin Hall
Kieffer Sutherland is a cop, retired from the force after an unfortunate accident, and takes a night watchman job that is more dangerous than anything he’d ever encountered as an officer. The building he watches is infested with malevolent spirits, traveling through mirrors, and attacking their victims via their reflections. The specters take an interest in Kieffer, soon following him home, attaching themselves to the reflections of his loved ones. When he fights back against the demon that controls these ghosts, the mirrors move to ensure Kieffer the same grisly fate as his predecessor.
Despite the violent and gory film hinted at by Mirrors’ trailer, this is really a more tense, psychological thriller, with supernatural flourish. Of course, it still has story elements that hearken back to the Ring, but Mirrors is a film whose greatest asset is its chilling environment and the effect it has on the viewer. The burned out husk of the department store where Kieffer, and his demonic adversary, frequent is a tremendous set with tons of detail, and lots of spooky atmosphere.
Not to say that Mirrors doesn’t have its share of startling, gory moments. The jaw-removal sequence is extremely clever, gruesome, and looks fantastic, and is an image from this film that will linger for a long time after viewing.
Aside from these few moments, though, Mirrors feels like a very sleepy movie. The story is woven slowly around Kieffer, who has to use his detective skills to figure out the root of these haunting reflections. Even the detective himself seems worn down by the world, plodding through the film in a slow, mopey manner. It’s a film that won’t be enjoyed by someone hoping for the frantic speed of a slasher flick, or even the relentless jump-scares of recent ghost movies like The Unborn. Instead, this is a movie that frightens the audience with strong visuals, and a slow burning tension,, made for suspense fans. But there is a scary little girl in an asylum, thrown into the film just to keep it up with the Jonses.
As for the DVD itself, I’d probably recommend that version of it over the Blu-Ray. Extras are plentiful on both editions, featuring a step-by-step making of process, commentaries, trailers, and other documentaries. The visual aspects of the film are its great strength, but there is a digital blur effect, similar to the one used in 300, used to artificially darken the hotel and create its dark and grimy atmosphere. As with 300, this digital grit didn’t come across on the big screen, but when the film is compressed onto a DVD or Blu-Ray, the grit pops out, tainting the image. There’s really no way to remove the eye-sore from the master print of the film, so best to get the slightly blurrier DVD edition where you won’t notice it too much.
Really, it’s a shame, because the set design on the department store really is fantastic. Mirrors may not be as scary as it had promised, but it is a technical achievement for the horror genre, and has enough oomph to warrant checking out.