Andy Bockelman: ‘Mirrors’ a cracked, yet insightful horror flick |

Andy Bockelman: ‘Mirrors’ a cracked, yet insightful horror flick

What if every reflective surface in your house stared back at you with scenes of gruesome demise? That menacing hypothetical looms large in the latest horror film, “Mirrors.”

Recovering alcoholic Ben Carson (Kiefer Sutherland) is a former New York detective whose law enforcement career has been reduced to a stint as a night watchman for the burned-down wreckage of a department store called the Mayflower.

The undemanding job is enough for him to get his life back on track so that he can reconnect with his estranged wife (Paula Patton) and children (Cameron Boyce, Erica Gluck).

However, as he makes his nightly rounds, strange and disturbing things begin happening, all of which are connected to the building’s many mirrors that have mysteriously survived the fire. Ben’s sister (Amy Smart) and wife surmise that he is merely experiencing hallucinogenic side effects from his anti-alcohol medication, but he is unconvinced.

As he investigates the Mayflower’s history, the malevolent forces contained within the mirrors let him know that they are very real and will stop at nothing to get what they want.

For the majority of his career, Sutherland has specialized in playing cops and psychopaths. In this instance, the two personas blend quite well as Ben puts his police experience to work with the fervor of a madman, unable to convince even himself that he is completely sane.

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This sentiment is shared by Patton, as his spouse, Amy. Although the actress is hardly as involving as Sutherland, she tries.

Smart, whose screen presence is much more tolerable, is diminished to that tried-and-true horror maxim, “the beautiful girl destined to die a hideous death” (patent pending) in a bathroom scene that will surely leave your stomach in upheaval.

This Americanization of the South Korean film, “Into the Mirror,” gets few points for originality – borrowing horror elements liberally from “The Shining” and “The Exorcist,” as well as fellow Asian-to-American shocker, “The Ring.” The movie is too fragmented to develop a strong story of its own. An example of this is the finale, which, though ominous, is more than familiar.

The weak characters are no huge help, either, though the horror theory that nothing is creepier than children certainly holds true. Nevertheless, the film deserves a second glance because of its surprisingly perceptive examination of the mythology of mirrors.

As Ben and his family become the victims of their own mirror images, it hearkens to powerful superstitions about the materialization of the human soul, the palpability of the mind and even windows to other dimensions. This kind of subtext is easy to overlook in a film of the genre, but is undoubtedly present.

“Mirrors” may not reflect the tastes of everyone, but a noteworthy intellectual basis keeps it from being just another bungle of Asian horror, such as the yawner of early 2008, “The Eye.” At any rate, you’ll never be able to look at a mirror the same way again.

Now playing at the West Theater.