Mirrors
So, I wasn't originally thinking about seeing this in theater, but I was bored and wanted to see something that could be fun, thrilling, brainless, and entertaining (and I missed the closest showing for Death Race). So I decided... what the heck. Might as well, right? Plus, the majority of the reviews I had read were unbalanced (usually things like how the first part was better than the second part, or that the movie was awesome, or that the movie just plain sucked). Not to mention that, at this point, it has a 6.3 on imdb, is directed by the pretty talented Alexandre Aja, and has brief Amy Smart nudity. In short, I went.

The movie is about down-and-out Jack Bau... erm... Ben Carson (Keifer Sutherland), who was forced to resign from his detective duties after he accidentally killed another cop. His marriage with his supernaturally hot wife, Amy (Paula Patton), is also failing, though he'll do anything to be with his two kids. So he's living with his sister, Angela (Amy Smart), and trying to get his life back in order by getting addicted to pills that help get over alcoholism and getting a job as a security officer to help get over killing a cop. So what is he security for? Well... something that really doesn't need guarding. It's a big Mayflower store that got burned down, so he has to guard all the crap inside that wasn't destroyed by smoke or fire (at least I think so... if it was really explained at all, I missed it), including some really big mirrors. But then it turns out that something is inside the mirrors and is both haunting and attacking him and his loved ones. So Ben is forced to figure out what the mirrors want and act all detective-like in order to save his family.

     You can tell that the plot and everything about it is based on a foreign movie, because it's similar to pretty much every other Hollywood remake of Asian horror. The only difference between this movie and movies like The Ring or The Grudge? This one actually has tense or scary moments. The others are usually pretty pathetic. I didn't think that the second half of the movie was worse than the first half, as a lot of other people seemed to think. I thought the whole mystery thing was interesting. And while the result wasn't your typical child-accidentally-died or child-brutally-murdered case, it was still very much an interesting, albeit a bizarre concept (and quite Asian). In fact, the whole climax reminded me of something from a survival horror video game, such as Resident Evil or Silent Hill. When it started, I was like "Boss battle! Go, Jack Bauer, Go!"

     The music was good, though I think the movie relied too heavily on it. It was almost overpowering in its use. And I know the director has the ability to be creepy or scary without the intense music. Nevertheless, it was still a pretty decent soundtrack.

     And speaking of the director, if there's one thing that Alexandre Aja knows how to do, it's setting the atmosphere. When I saw the remake of The Hills Have Eyes, I could almost feel the heat of the desert along with the characters, and I could feel their isolation and terror. Similarly, the way this movie was shot, I could feel the paranoia and tension brought on by any reflective surface. And mirrors have always been a scare-tactic in horror movies, but to widen the range to any reflective surface and have any of these reflective surfaces be the cause of death increases the tension of almost every minute of the movie, because you're always waiting for that next scare, not knowing if it'll come or not.

     The acting was a bit mediocre, but it only bothered me a couple of times. Seriously, by the time the end of the movie starts to kick into gear and Paula Patton is soaking wet in a white tank-top, I couldn't care less about acting. I mean, some of it was good, but most of it... not so much. And I couldn't tell if it was because of the actors or because of the script they were given, as some of the characters came off wrong. There was one scene that really bugged me, toward the beginning (and I think this was more of a writing issue). But Keifer and Paula are arguing, Paula having started it, and out of nowhere Paula yells at him. She just goes off. And then Keifer tries to keep it cool, but eventually yells back. And then, I kid you not, Paula's character is like (and I'm paraphrasing here) "See? That's what I mean. I never know how you're going to act," or, in other words, "why the hell are you yelling at me? It's not like I just bit your head off first and then acted all innocent and hypocritical in the situation. Oh whatever, let's make out." And then they proceed to forget everything and do so. Oh, and one last thing about the writing that bugged me. How coincidental can you get when everything you need to solve the case is right at your fingertips? For instance, Ben was a former detective, so he had a couple connections in getting old hospital files and such. Or how his wife was a mortician, and he needed to urgently see a corpse that had recently been added to the morgue, so she was able to get him in. Just stuff like that was too cliché and too simplistic.

     Overall, the movie wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. The CGI was a bit too fake at times, and the plot turned pretty sketchy every now and then. But there was a good balance between tension and gore. The visual style, I think, was the best part about the movie, with constant showings of reflections in different objects. The very end of the movie didn't make much sense, though. I mean, I understand what happened, but I just don't know how it happened. Though I did have to smirk at a comment somebody made as I was leaving the theater, which really fit in with how Hollywood is going these days. "So I guess there's gonna be a sequel. What're they gonna call it? Reflections?"

     Indeed, movie-goer. Indeed.

Reviewed by: Nick