(director/writer: Alexandre Aja; screenwriter: Grégory Levasseur; cinematographer: Maxime Alexandre; editor: Baxter; music: Javier Navarrete; cast: Kiefer Sutherland (Ben Carson), Paula Patton (Amy Carson), Cameron Boyce (Michael Carson), Erica Gluck (Daisy Carson), Amy Smart (Angela Carson), Mary Beth Peil (Anna Esseker), John Shrapnel (Lorenzo Sapelli), Jason Flemyng (Larry Byrne), Josh Cole (Gary Lewis); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Alexandre Aja/Grégory Levasseur/Alexandra Milchan/Marc Sternberg/Moritz von der Groeben; Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation; 2008)
“It’s so ridiculous that it even makes The Exorcist franchise films seem more sensible.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An embarrassingly bad case of filmmaking from the talented but not accomplished French writer-director Alexandre Aja (“The Hills Have Eyes”/”High Tension”/”P2”) and cowriter Grégory Levasseur. The supernatural thriller is a remake of the Korean director Sung-ho Kim’s Into The Mirror (2003). It’s so ridiculous that it even makes The Exorcist franchise films seem more sensible. Are you ready to accept unbreakable mirrors that are possessed and when you stare at them they can make you kill yourself, and that your image can stare back at you even when you are not looking at them? Rife with cheap scares, trite dialogue and psycho-babble explanations for such rubbish, the dumb film never seems more than an acting exercise in Horror 101 and of creating a dark mood to cover up such an illogical story. If you are willing to buy into such hokum and suspend not only your sense of disbelief but your brain from functioning, then this film has found its perfect viewer.
Ben Carson (Kiefer Sutherland) is divorced from his hospital medical staffer wife Amy (Paula Patton) but still is a loving father to his two young kids Daisy and Michael, as he’s trying to get his act together and has quit drinking for the last few months and is trying to curb his bad temper. He’s also an ex-NYPD detective, who was suspended without pay over killing another cop while working undercover. Hard pressed for money, Ben takes a job as a nightwatchman at the site of the Mayflower Department Store, built on the site of St. Matthew’s Hospital that opened in 1952. The Mayflower was destroyed during a fire set five years ago by a man who said ‘the mirrors made me do it!’ (which would be funny if this filmmaker had a sense of humor and didn’t take himself so seriously, especially over such nonsense). The hospital closed over an incident in the psychiatric ward, where a number of children were killed when they huddled together on orders from a mirror and took their own lives.
The entire story revolves around a pill-popping but decent Ben trying to get to the bottom of how the mirrors could be so bad. We soon learn the mirrors have induced the security guard Ben replaced, Gary Lewis, to slit his throat with a piece of mirror, for Ben to have nightmares over strange things he sees in the mirror of sis’s apartment where he’s crashing, that Ben’s wonderfully rational bartender sister Angela (Amy Smart) gruesomely killed herself while in the tub by ripping open her jaws, and how the mirrors have now invaded Ben’s former home and threaten his family. Doing some detective work, Ben comes up with the name of Esseker as being essential in solving the case. She was a 12-year-old schizophrenic patient of an experimental psychiatrist at the hospital, who treated her illness by placing her in a room full of mirrors. How Esseker and the possessed mirrors connect with both the suicides and the store fire are uncovered in such a shoddy and insulting way to one’s intelligence, that the film becomes increasingly unpleasant (I came out of the theater with a headache) and in the end appears to reflect only a dull and dreary emptiness.
Sutherland shot the movie in between episodes of “24,” and decided to mail-in his performance here as a slight variation on the Jack Bauer type that he plays on television.
REVIEWED ON 8/16/2008 GRADE: C- https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/