EmptyOpens: Friday, Aug. 15 (Fox)
Asian horror films, and their inevitable American remakes, have a tendency to provide effectively frightening attributes to the most banal physical objects, but "Mirrors" pushes the limit.
This remake of a South Korean movie ultimately provides fewer scares than the average aging baby boomer feels every time they look into a reflective surface. The film opened Friday, naturally without being screened for the press.
Kiefer Sutherland, getting no respite from the sort of turmoil he has to endure every season on Fox's "24," is in similarly intense mode here as Ben Carson, a former New York City cop who had to leave the force after an accidental shooting. Separated from his wife (Paula Patton) and two young kids and crashing on his sister's (Amy Smart) couch while attempting to keep off the booze, he takes a night job guarding the charred remains of a once magnificent department store.
The one preserved element of the hulking ruins is the endless mirrors inside. It isn't long before Ben is seeing horrific visions inside them which begin to manifest themselves in all sorts of gruesomely violent ways. Trying to investigate a resulting series of horrible deaths that are somehow connected, he finds that mirrors in general, not just those in the store, are threatening the lives of him and his family.
Director Alexandre Aja, working with a bigger budget but less imagination than on such previous efforts as "High Tension" and the remake of "The Hills Have Eyes," ultimately is stymied by a hamfisted script that devolves into a talkathon as Sutherland's character tries to solve the mystery. While the filmmaker does provide some effectively gruesome shocks, especially with a memorable onscreen death of one of the main characters that can literally be described as jaw dropping, the laggard pacing and overly derivative elements ultimately defeats the film's better elements.
Sutherland delivers a suitably haggard and driven portrayal, even if such moments as when he interrogates an old man and throatily warns, "Do not make me threaten you," venture perilously close to Jack Bauer territory. The performances by the supporting cast also are effective. The film was shot entirely in Romania, except for some perfunctory New York establishing shots.
Production: Regency Entertainment. Cast: Keifer Sutherland, Paula Patton, Amy Smart. Director: Alexandre Aja. Screenwriters: Alexandre Aja, Gregory Levasseur. Executive producers: Kiefer Sutherland, Arnon Milchan, Marc S. Fischer, Andrew Hong. Producers: Gregory Levasseur, Alexandra Milchan, Marc Sternberg. Director of photography: Maxime Alexandre. Production designer: Joseph Nemec III. Music: Javier Navarrette. Costume designer: Ellen Mirojnick, Michael Dennison. Editor: Baxter. Rated R, 110 minutes.