Science fiction and fantasy                                            


directed by Alexandre Aja

A terrified security guard runs through a subway station, past dark corridors full of flickering lights and into an empty locker room. But he's running from his own crazed reflection, and his sticky end is inescapable. It's an attention-grabbing start to the kind of movie that sets out to scare its audience thoroughly and frequently.

Ben Carson (Kiefer Sutherland) is trying to piece his life back together after he accidentally killed a colleague in the NYPD. He gets a job as a night watchman at a big, derelict department store known as the Mayflower. The Mayflower was gutted by fire and left in a mess, without much hope of it ever being restored. Ben's job is to patrol it every few hours. Never mind why anyone would need to guard such a place, when there's nothing left to loot. It's as creepy a location as any horror fan could wish for, full of dark, burnt-out rooms and a number of huge mirrors. The shop dummies stare sightless in the gloom, reminding us of the bodies of the fire's victims.

Since Ben has been through some trauma he's taking strong medication to help him get over a drink problem. But as he patrols the store at night, his way lit with just a torch, things start to freak him out. He begins to notice oddities about the mirrors there, and he experiences some strange things. But is it real, or is it just his imagination?

However Ben's job follows him home, and soon it's not only the mirrors in the Mayflower but every mirror that seems to pose a danger. He tries to investigate when he finds out what happened to Gary Lewis (Josh Cole), the security guard Ben replaced. But people around him think he's insane, especially Amy (Paula Patton), Ben's estranged wife. So he has to struggle to convince them he's not mad, and to protect them from whatever evil lurks inside the mirrors, before it's too late.

Mirrors is certainly tense and atmospheric, using just enough restraint to allow the really gory scenes to catch you by surprise. Ben is a likeable character, in spite of his jumpiness and erratic temper. His family are believable, so when they're in danger we care what happens to them. This is a tightly-plotted story, and fear is one emotion that's particularly well done.

The ending, however, is a little lacking in depth. Whilst the effects are okay, and there's a good twist at the very end, it's too patchy when it comes to the questions of what the story is really all about, and why it happens. It's not the kind of film that stands as a metaphor for something else, nor is it emphasising a moral tale of some kind. You're not left with the feeling that the scriptwriters were trying to say anything in particular, at least not anything too profound. So although Mirrors is dark and very intense while it lasts, it has a frivolous heart of pure popcorn.

Film Details

Year: 2008

Categories: Films


Classification: 18

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3 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson