[Screen It]

(2008) (Kiefer Sutherland, Paul Patton) (R)

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Horror: A suspended police detective and his estranged family must contend with the mirrors of a burned-out department store, and then other reflective surface that display horrific visions and endanger their lives.
Ben Carson (KIEFER SUTHERLAND) is a NYPD detective who's been suspended from the force for nearly a year following the accidental shooting of another cop. His turning to alcohol to deal with that has lead to him living with his bartender sister, Angela (AMY SMART), while trying to reconnect with his estranged wife, Amy (PAULA PATTON), and their two young kids, Michael (CAMERON BOYCE) and Daisy (ERICA GLUCK).

To try to turn his life around, Ben has taken a job as the night watchman of the Mayflower department store. Once the flashiest such place downtown, it's now a burned-out building following a purposefully set fire five years earlier. With the insurance companies battling over what to do with it, the place has stood vacant, save for all of the charred and melted mannequins and other store belongings.

And then there are the mirrors, perfectly polished by the former night watchman, Gary Lewis (JOSH COLE), who became obsessed with them before his own reflection in one of them apparently made him slash his own throat. During his rounds, Ben begins to notice strange things about them as well, such as showing reflected images of things that aren't really there, which eventually leads to other mirrors and then any reflective surfaces doing the same.

When he realizes they're putting both him and his family in danger, Ben goes into full detective mode, investigating the store and some of its employees' pasts, as well as the institution housed in the building before that, eventually leading to a nun, Anna Esseker (MARY BETH PEIL), who has a connection to what's occurring. From that point on, he races against time to resolve the situation before it's too late.

OUR TAKE: 3.5 out of 10
Our new reviewing policy for films that aren't shown in advance to critics is that we'll only provide a paragraph or two about the film's artistic merits or, more accurately, lack thereof. After all, life is too short to spend any more effort than that on a movie that even the releasing studio knows isn't any good (which is why they hid it from reviewers before its release).

This remake of the 2003 South Korean movie "Geoul sokeuro" ("Into the Mirror") arrives courtesy of writer-director Alexandre Aja (the remake of "The Hills Have Eyes," the original "High Tension") and follows the standard plot trajectory of most contemporary Asian horror flicks. Namely, a person encounters supernatural events that lead to some investigating and the discovery of past wrongs committed on children.

While there are some decent scares here and there, the drama surrounding Kiefer Sutherland's troubled cop character trying to reconnect with and then save his estranged family isn't anything novel and certainly isn't played very well. And with the eventual explanation of why things are happening coming off as fairly lame and recycled, this rip-off of "The Shining" doesn't reflect well on those in front of or behind the lens. "Mirrors" rates as a 3.5 out of 10.

Reviewed August 15, 2008 / Posted August 15, 2008

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