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‘Mirrors’ an awesome haunting

By Staff | Sep 23, 2008

Have you seen a cool ghost story lately? I mean one that brews from the simplest aspects of imagination and sends incredible, creepy crawling chills running up and down your spine.

To illustrate through local digression, the Paramount Theatre in Ashland, Ky., has a ‘house’ ghost who has driven off numerous night watch men. Once, the marquee lit up in the middle of the night with no one inside the theatre. Rumor has it in the ‘30s a man hung himself backstage and his spirit protects the building.

“Mirrors” has similar other worldly confections — a burnt out department store that once was a psychiatric hospital where  a massacre occurred; a suspended New York policeman doing guard duty following his suspension after a justified shooting; entities within mirrors that cause homicidal behavior.

Remade from a Korean film  (remember, “Sixth Sense” was an American re-make of a Japanese thriller), the script could have been a Rod (“Twilight Zone”) Serling brainchild, too.

Instead of a haunted house, the damaged ruins of a multiple death arson fire stand unrepaired, trapped in insurance squabbles. The stately concrete store contains remnants of the upscale displays singed and scorched from the inferno, including a still intact jewelry department with a series of untouched mirrors.

Beginning with an illusionary pretense, the lone guard with but a flashlight roams every two hours through the crypt where 40 souls perished. His walks precipitate apparent hallucinations of those burning to death with an occasional not synchronized reflection in the giant mirrors, which hints of a dimensional or other crossover.

Kiefer Sutherland plays Ben Carson, the emotionally fragile cop. Instead of quitting the night shift and avoiding confronting the images in the mirror, he determines a mystery must be solved to seal spirits on the opposite side of the mirror. Facing the lack of credibility stereotyped from his emotional battering, he shuttles from boldness investigating the grim building to another shaken guard having seen — he thinks — the glimpse of non-reflective terror. 

Directed by French horror director Alexandre Aja (“Hills Have Eyes”), “Mirrors” jars your scare quotient by a new spin on an old dark house premise attached to roaming homicidal inducing spirits. The blackened store interior by flashlight rivets a clear and pleasant danger that could have been further exploited by ectoblastic poltergeist, spirits, vapors and visions.  Instead, he stretches the haunting to all mirrors and reflective objects. That taints the suspension of disbelief a bit, but expanding the menace to Carson’s family evokes a shrill “Psycho” flavor.

 Yes, the leaping of the mirror spirits beyond the building’s foundation creates more intense nightmares, but one could counter why the building owners must have someone trudge through the ruins every two hours. With a construction fence around the shell, only droppings from birds flocking in through the burned roof should be anticipated.

Complaints aside, the interweaving of mystery, suspense and the supernatural still leaves you shaken. You will not want to check your face in a mirror for some time.

Contact Tony at trutherford@graffitiwv.com