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Despite its talented director and a few good jolts, Mirrors is a dumbed-down horror film only the most forgiving fans will love.


French director Alexandre Aja recently gave us a down and dirty remake of The Hills Have Eyes. He should have called this one The Mirrors Have Eyes, as the rather silly plot focuses on a fire ravaged and now abandoned department store, patrolled by ex-cop Ben Carson (Kiefer Sutherland). But he is being haunted by supernatural mirrors, which seem to be targeting him and his family for death. The guy who previously had the job managed to slit his own throat thanks to the mean 'ol mirrors, which makes this new gig a total downer for the former NYPD cop who is also a recovering alcoholic. Scenes shift from the dark and creepy building to his former home now solely occupied by his estranged wife (Paula Patton) and two nightmare-prone kids. Forced to live with his bartender sister Angela (Amy Smart), Ben tries to convince sis and ex-wife that he is haunted by a group of, yes, mirrors at his current workplace, and they may all be in danger as well.


Fortunately for Sutherland, he still has his TV series 24 to fall back on because his acting talents are not really required in this dopey horror flick. With expressions ranging from A to B, Sutherland mostly prowls around the deserted building he patrols with a deep sense of fearful earnestness as only a guy being threatened by inanimate objects would. The dialogue he is asked to utter is of the " help me, they're after me" school of screenwriting. Can't really blame Kiefer too much, though, since all the actors caught up in this enterprise are stuck with one-dimensional roles that only serve to point out the shortcomings of the ridiculous storyline. Patton tries hard in the thankless wife role but isn't given much to do except doubt the protestations of her alcoholic soon-to-be-ex hubby. The eerie looking kids who get caught up in Daddy's nightmare, Erica Gluck and Cameron Boyce, look like they were plucked right out of Horror 101 casting. Smart is also pretty much wasted but does have a memorable bathtub scene in which she rips her face off. There is a nice turn by veteran actress Mary Beth Peil, whose character holds the key to the mystery of the mirrors.


Alexandre Aja is no slouch in the horror department. He has proved in past efforts such as The Hills Have Eyes remake and the French thriller High Tension to be a modern master of the genre, effectively staging the kind of gross-out scenes fans of the genre crave. He has a couple of nifty ones here, including the aforementioned bathtub sequence, but most of his film gets bogged down with a lot of psychological mumbo-jumbo that tries to explain away the dopey concept. Bottom line is the director (who has only himself to blame since he also co-wrote the script ) has been saddled with an absurd premise of a bunch of unforgiving department store mirrors seeking vengeance on their human prey. Gore-starved devotees may be pleased but sadly, Mirrors gives the rest of us precious little to reflect on.

Bottom Line rated this film 2 stars.