Sunday, October 31, 2010
Review: Mirrors 2
Mirrors 2 is a straight-to-DVD release of a horror movie that already wasn’t very good. So, is it really that much of a stretch to assume that this movie isn’t going to be the next Halloween or Nightmare on Elm Street when it comes to breaking new ground in the horror genre? No, no it is not.
The Movie: Two and a half stars
I like to think of the first Mirrors as one of Kiefer Sutherland’s better modern-day films. Is it a good movie? Not by a long shot. But it’s one of the few recent films that he’s starred in that really benefits from having him in it, all gruff and badass, just as he should be. Without him, the movie’s absolutely worthless. That being said, enter Mirrors 2, starring Nick Stahl, who’s probably most recognizable as the guy who wasn’t Edward Furlong in the Terminator 2 sequel, Rise of the Machines. Nick Stahl replaces Kiefer as the protagonist in this direct-to-DVD sequel, and let me tell you, he doesn’t fill those shoes well at all. He plays a security guard, similar to Kiefer in the original, but he’s so sickly and tired looking throughout the film that your main concern while watching it isn’t about a ghost that lurks in a shopping mall’s mirrors, but rather that Nick Stahl needs to eat a banana or something and get some rest, pronto. Seriously, he looks that bad in the movie, I’m not even kidding you.
The plot and acting don't help, since both are atrocious even by straight-to-DVD standards. The story centers around a tortured man (Stahl) who lost his fiancé in a car accident. Because he’s the son of a rich guy who’s opening a mall, and because he’s degenerated into sort of a bum from all his guilt, his father gets him a job as a security guard at the mall in hopes that he’ll get back to being productive again. The mall, however, is haunted by a spirit because of an incident that happened there not too long ago, and she’s killing off all the people who had anything to do with it. What does any of this have to do with Nick Stahl’s fiancé being killed in a car accident? Good question. You would hope that the story would tie all that together in the end, but no, it doesn’t do that at all. So that’s a plot hole right there for you, don’t you think? In fact, the spirit also goes after another character who has nothing to do with the incident at all, suggesting that this is one unfocused ghost. Plot hole number two.
Plot holes can be forgiven in a horror film if it’s at least scary, but this movie isn’t even that, with gore taking center stage rather than scares. Being that this picture is unrated, it’s actually a bit gorier that the first one, mouth-pulling scene notwithstanding. Heads get decapitated by glass, innards get cut open by knives, and Achilles tendons get sliced. And while none of this is really all that shocking by modern standards (the Saw and Hostel franchises have been dabbling in this sort of thing for years now), it gives the film at least a little charm for horror hounds, especially since it’s all done with actual props and make-up rather than CG (more on that in the special features). If not for the kills, I’d give this movie one star.
Let's talk acting, shall we? Everyone in this film acts as if they're reading lines off cue cards the entire time. One character (the ghost’s sister) is actually the worst actress I’ve ever seen in a horror movie before...and I’ve seen a lot of horror movies. Not only that, but the script is just plain awful. It seems like the movie is built around those aforementioned death sequences rather than it being the other way around. And unfortunately, all those deaths happen relatively early in the movie, so you’re left with a long slog through boring and predictable narrative (Hint: The person you’d least suspect to be the bad guy really is! What a shocker!).
Overall, if you liked the first Mirrors, you won’t necessarily like this one. Kiefer isn’t in it, it looks like the straight-to-DVD release it is, and the story is ka-ka. Add all that together, and you have Mirrors 2. Whether you can accept that or not is up to you.
The Disc: One and a half stars
One of the key selling points for this DVD on the commercials is that it contains the original Korean movie, Into the Mirror, that both Mirrors and Mirrors 2 are based on. And while I’d like to say that that makes this disc worth the price of admission, I’m going to have to give a big no to that, as Into the Mirror really isn’t that much of an improvement over the Americanized versions. In fact, I actually think it’s worse, because at least those remakes have either Kiefer Sutherland or some well-designed gore in them. Into the Mirror is just boring as all hell. I can definitely say this for Korean horror cinema: if this is one of the best movies they have to offer, they’re nowhere near as adept at horror as the Japanese are. The Ring and The Grudge are indications of that.
Still, if you actually like the Mirrors series, it’s interesting to watch Into the Mirror, as many of the scenes are replicated in the American releases. Most times I recommend the originals over the remakes, as the originals usually have a special charm to them that the remakes don't offer. This is one instance where I think the opposite can be said. The glacial pacing of the original Korean picture is quickened a great deal by American sensibilities and impatient audiences. It makes me proud to be an American, at least when it comes to comparing Mirrors pictures across seas.
Also on this disc are two paltry deleted scenes -- one relevant, one not; a small doc called "The Other Side: Making Mirrors 2," which is actually a bit depressing, because you come to think that the cast and crew were under the impression that this movie would actually be released in theaters; and "Keeping It Real: The Visual and Special Effects of Mirrors 2." This last doc is actually pretty impressive, as it shows all the hard work and modeling that had to go into making the gorier sections of the movie look real. Since the budget was a lot lower for this picture than the first Mirrors, the crew had to rely on old-school special-effects techniques with fake blood and models, and it really pays off, as that’s one of the only features of the movie that’s actually decent. The hard work they had to go through to make the deaths in this movie is astounding, and it really takes you back to a time when movies like The Thing and Jurassic Park looked so good because they used actual models and materials rather than CG. This doc is the one redeeming special feature on the entire disc and definitely worth a watch if you pick it up. The rest you can skip.