Kiefer Sutherland and the Chamber of Mirrors
Whilst I like all sorts of horror movies I tend to favour those which create tension so that when something unexpected happens it makes you jump. It is for me the simplest form of horror but one which rarely gets done right and often overlooked completely in favour of gore and action. Now I thought I was going to get tension horror as I watched "Mirrors" as the first half of this movie did a nice job of creating an ominous atmosphere and throwing sudden shocks at the audience. But then sadly it all goes to pot as for some reason director Alexandre Aja traded atmosphere for action and creepy for CGI effects which left me disappointed by "Mirrors".
Having been forced off the force and estranged from his wife and family because of his drinking Ben Carson (Kiefer Sutherland - The Sentinel) is starting to get his life back on track, he has a job working as night watchman and whilst sleeping on his sister's couch hasn't touched a drop in 3 months. But his job guarding the burned out Mayflower department store is not the simple task he imagined as he encounters strange things in the strangely clean mirrors which litter the burned out building. And these strange things start to follow him around in anything which reflects, threatening his family and forcing him to work out what demonic entity could be behind the mirrors.
So "Mirrors" is a movie of two halves with a terrific, atmospheric first half and then a rather ordinary, action driven second half. Now I like the first half, whilst it featured action and gore it created a mystery surrounding the mirrors in the burned out Mayflower building and what a great location the Academy of Sciences in Bucharest, Romania is for this derelict building. And as it created mystery it delivered those sorts of sudden surprises and some unsettling imagery to keep you glued to what is happening especially with Ben being pushed ever close to the edge of sanity.
But there is a very graphic scene featuring Ben's sister and from then on in the emphasis of "Mirrors" changes as instead of atmosphere we get action and Kiefer Sutherland starts to morph into Jack Bauer as he goes running around. It not only ruins the atmosphere it had done so well to create it also threw away various rules it had created when it came to the mirrors and basically becomes a free for all of effects and action. Those who enjoy Kiefer Sutherland in "24" probably will enjoy this second half but it frustrated me and whilst to be honest was well put together is too different in style to that first half.
As you can imagine this split personality of a movie extends to the central character of Ben as during the first half he is a man on the edge who considers whether his medication and past is causing hallucinations yet second half he turns into a bit of an action hero which is vastly different to the first half. The thing is that Kiefer Sutherland plays both sides to his character well, they just don't belong together. And as for the rest of the cast well it again is a split because during the first half Paula Patton and Amy Smart get characters to play, the ex wife and the concerned sister but come the second half and it all starts too border on teenage horror titillation with the camera lingering on Patton's body.
What this all boils down to is that "Mirrors" is a frustrating movie because half of it is good and half is ordinary and ends up becoming a lot of nonsense as it breaks the rules it created and turned out lots of action instead of atmosphere.