Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


Kiefer Sutherland, Amy Smart, Paula Patton, Cameron Boyce and Erica Gluck

Rated: R 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: August 15, 2008 Released by: Twentieth Century Fox

Hopefully, Kiefer Sutherland won't have seven years bad luck after having made this ghastly thriller between seasons of the same studio's small-screen perennial favorite "24".

Perhaps it was a contractual obligation, but Mirrors (based on a 2003 Korean film Inside the Mirrors) definitely has two faces and doesn't reflect well at all on those associated with it.

From the writers of the inane P2 and the filmmakers behind The Hills Have Eyes, Alexandre Aja (with scribe colleague Gregory Levasseur) hardly crackle any high tension and the execution won't even sate any with a Grand Guignol passion.

Sutherland borrows from his Jack Bauer character as overly medicated, disgraced, troubled ex-detective Ben Cross who hopes to get reinstated down the road by the NYPD. Becoming the top security man at 6th Avenue's heavily fire-damaged Mayflower department store (once the St. Matthews psychatric institute) turns out to threaten his personal life as he tries to salvage his professional, while staying at the apartment of sister Angela (Amy Smart). He's trying to make amends with his family, wife and post-mortem specialist Amy (Paula Patton of Deja Vu) and kids Michael (Cameron Boyce) and Daisy (Erica Gluck), as he visits their home early on playing with Michael on his birthday with a remote-controlled car present.

The plodding plotting of Aja and Levasseur takes Ben to bear quite a cross that sometimes recalls Stigmata as he's touched by the spirits from the Mayflower tragedy (the building isn't that bad inside after oddly left unabandoned for five years considering the reported damage) from the many (very clean) mirrors. His paranoid behavior has him believing he's spreading a spectral virus that can wreak havoc on those closest to him. Especially after his investigation into the death of the Mayflower's last security guard and the history of building housing the isolated facility back in 1952.

One would think that the rotting Mayflower itself could have made for a slick, supernatural character, but Aja has remodeled the source with nods towards The Ring and Dark Water in his lurid, dank approach. Cross dutifully trudges to Pennsylvania and to a "monastery" in his search for one Anna Essecker (Mary Beth Pell) who figures in the loony, poltergeisty special-effects climax as the spirits look to have their way with Amy and the kids. It hardly befits its lushly mounted production values.

It doesn't help that the actors are saddled with material as dilapidating as the Mayflower with lines that just has them emoting. Watch some of the domestic unblissfulness between Ben and Amy and it's clear what comes from their tongues is "dead and wounded" just like the department store victims. Some may find cruel glee in the bathtub scene with Smart's bartender Angela that is a jaw-dropping (or raising) experience probably with the actress hoping for some kind of buttefly effect.

So, as Mirrors really gets clamorous and more proposterous up to and including its twist ending, Sutherland has long lost one's interest in something so claustrophobic and lugubriously rendered. It's horror/psychological torture that even Jack Bauer couldn't even save himself or the world even by being on the inside.

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