Saturday, September 20, 2008


7 Years

Looking at the filmography of Alexandre Aja, he's becoming dangerously close to being branded as a director who specializes in remakes of films that can allow him to amplify the original gore factor, and one who hopefully doesn't position himself, intentionally or otherwise, such that audiences would come to expect a twist in every single one of his movies.

While I'd enjoy his Haute Tension and his version and update of The Hills Have Eyes, he seemed to have reined himself in with Mirrors, where allowance for violent excesses was minimized and allocated to creating mood and tension, which succeeded as the movie went along, and plodded forward during many moments in the beginning when Kiefer Sutherland's Ben Carson began probing the mystery of his workplace. You can just about sense Aja's glee when it came to scenes that called for gore, and at times succumbed to cheap scares which were rather successful.

However, Aja can't decide if this was going to be an all out spiritual spook fest, or a monster movie, and that confusion resulted in an actual schizophrenia, where one ending is insufficient, and you'd need two endings in order to provide for some bang for the buck. It's as if it ran on multiple fronts which could be delinked from one another, and if not for the characters' relationships, it could well be a series of shorts pasted together with the mirrors being running motifs where spirits reside in, and can determine life or death, with a concept quite refreshing, but again, unoriginal since it's a Hollywood adaptation.

While Aja might seem to want to tread back to familiar territory at every opportunity at gore, Keifer Sutherland too can't seem to break too far away from his cop related roles for the big screen, save for lending his voice in Phone Booth, his recent The Sentinel and this one still had his character come from the force. Perhaps it's lazy casting on the filmmakers' part in getting someone already familiar with the territory so that audiences can immediate latch onto his Jack Bauer persona, and have it plain sailing from there. And no matter how Sutherland tries to provide a new dimension to his mentally pained ex-cop, he just can't shake Bauer off, which became as niggling as the persistent spirits that call out for his attention.

And that familiarity didn't just stop with the director and the lead actor, as it extended toward the supporting appearance by Amy Smart, though in a not so surprising role of being here just to shed her clothes. I thought she could be a decent actress without having to resort to such "tricks", but I guess filmmakers from Crank to Mirrors still haven't got enough of her Road Trip stint. Again, very dangerous ground to tread on for the mentioned - one for gory remakes, one for cop roles, and one a naked flower vase.

Granted there were some fine moments courtesy of special effects, with misbehaving mirror images and the way characters get dispatched - slow, painful and plenty of blood - but those looking for occasionally fine scary moments may find them in Mirrors. I've not seen the original 2003 Korean movie Into the Mirror which this movie is based upon, but given the cheeky finale, I just might be interested to check out the Korean version. For now, I'd start to think about those palm prints left behind in mirrors as they will never look the same again.

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