August 15, 2008
Alexandre Aja, Gregory Levasseur and Sung-ho Kim (Korean motion picture "Into the Mirror")
Kiefer Sutherland as Ben Carson
Paula Patton as Amy Carson
Cameron Boyce as Michael Carson
Erica Gluck as Daisy Carson
Amy Smart as Angela Carson
Granted there’s something ever so creepy about the thought of looking in the mirror and seeing something horrific (remember the young and beautiful turned old and decrepit woman in The Shining?), or seeing yourself in an altered state (Jeff Goldblum pulling out his own teeth in The Fly). But this concept alone does not an Oscar-winner make, especially with undeveloped characters like that played by Amy Smart, and a plot that’s well-developed in the first half of the film and then takes a leisurely and progressive dive.
Jack Bauer Ben, played by Kiefer Sutherland, takes a job as a night watchman in a burned out condemned department store in New York (why such a building would need 24-hour interior patrol is beyond me, but whatever). Ben is a former NYPD officer that accidentally shot and killed a fellow policeman in the line of duty (hard to get happy after that one) and went on to screw up his marriage with a drinking problem. Determined to get back on the force and back in bed with his wife, Ben has quit drinking with the aid of a drug, a drug that’s side affects may or may not be making him crazy.
Upon taking the security job, Ben soon realizes there are some strange things going on with the mirrors in the old building. When he looks directly into them they either begin to crack or grotesque images reflect back at him – people burning alive, Ben himself burning alive, dogs and cats living together. Does Ben quit the job? Of course not. Maybe it’s the drugs he’s taking, plus everyone has off days. And the fact that the night watchman he replaced committed suicide doesn’t deter Ben either. The real problems begin when Ben goes home and the same thing happens, not only to him but to his sister, and eventually his wife and kids. To make matters worse, the visions start to become reality. At least this rules out the drugs, which Ben keeps taking like candy.
With one loved one now dead in a scene that will leave your jaw hanging open, Ben does what any logical man would do – he takes down the smaller glasses and paints over the rest. The problem is the ghastly visions are also seen in water, on glass, etc. Staying true to form, the film should actually be titled “All Reflective Surfaces”.
Determined to get to the bottom of things, Ben returns to the condemned building and wonders aloud “what do you want from me?” – and gets an answer. After some quick internet research and subsequent interviews of those involved with the fire and other mysterious death-producing events that took place in the building some 50 years earlier, Ben devises a plan and goes a-hunting. And in the nick of time too, what with the world being covered in mirrors (and other reflective surfaces).
As it becomes apparent we’re now just chasing “bad spirits” who have ended up in reflective surfaces, this is about when you’ll start to look at your watch. Is there at least a satisfying ending? Let’s just say when chasing anything in or out of mirrors, be prepared for where you end up.