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Reviewed by Andrew Kozma, © 2008

Format: Movie
By:   Alexandre Aja (Writer/Director)
Genre:   Horror
Review Date:   August 22, 2008
Audience Rating:   R
RevSF Rating:   6/10 (What Is This?)

Take a good look at yourself.

Do you like what you see?

Do you see someone (despite, because of, or ignoring your answer) who likes movies? Bad movies? Movies that aren’t quite bad, but aren’t quite good, but aren’t, thankfully, luke-warm, and instead have a mix of good points, stupid points, and interesting concepts/ characterizations/ whatever?

Think of it this way: You’re in the kitchen, baking, and you have to sift the dry ingredients again because you broke a glass and some of the shards landed in your soon to be cake. You could (1) throw it away (read: Never see it). But you’re hungry. For cake. You could (2) bake it anyway (read: Go see it, expecting to hate it, then gloat over your astute powers of perception).

But you’re not that hungry, and the whole point of cake is enjoyment, not nutrition, right? But you could also (notice the un-italicized “could”) (3) sift the dry ingredients, again, and eventually have the cake you wanted all along (read: Watch the movie, making fun of the bad, enjoying the good, since you have enough knowledge to identify and enjoy both), accepting the occasional grit bringing a bit of color to your mouth.

If you chose option 1, please leave this website immediately.

If you chose option 2, there is no help for you. Our tastes are diametrically opposed.

If you chose option 3, you have decided to face the dragon, despite the fleeing of the rest of your party. Turn to paragraph 9.

Mirrors is an interesting movie. I wanted to see it (and dragged my bad-movie buddy Glenn along with me; note he does have some limits: He refused to accompany me to The Happening because of the poster.

There are certain tropes in Japanese horror (note: this movie’s origin is Korean) that instinctively scare me, and the face of the girl on the poster succeeded, just as the creature in The Grudge and the sound it made gave me nightmares that kept me under my monster repelling covers for weeks. I expected to be scared by Mirrors and wasn’t, really, disappointed.

See, one of the aspects that makes Mirrors interesting is that it starts the scares directly, and I don’t mean the cliche, which the movie adheres to, of having a character run in fear from the [insert monster/ ghost/ demon/force here] and ends up dead before the opening credits. Ignore that bow to conventionality for a moment, and you’ll notice that the movie, from that point onwards, introduces the scares as it develops the situation of the main character.

Ben, a retired, alcoholic cop looking to turn his life around, takes a job as a night watchman at a creepy abandoned department store that used to be a hospital, and, immediately, finds himself confronting things that should not be. In both its saving grace, and its tragic flaw, Mirrors succeeds in being a scary movie for the first thirty minutes. After the first thirty minutes you get less scary, more stupid, more unexplained and never attempted, more crappy twist. All for half the price!

Just kidding. So either pretend to be a student or go for the matinee. If you have a real job, suck it up.

But, assuming you get in on the cheap (or buy the movie’s master reel for payback if it fails to entertain. Yeah, I’m looking at you, Richie Rich!), you’ll find the first thirty minutes scary, you’ll probably be intrigued by the mystery behind the mirrors, and you’ll most definitely be stunned by the sudden shift to Monster Movie at the end.

What are you waiting for? What movie has every had a more completely positive endorsement?

Postscript: This is being translated from the mirror world. At least I hope it is. There’s not much to do here except think, and regret that the last movie I watched was Mirrors.

I want to say that that’s why I’m here, in the world but not of it, waiting for, I don’t know, another . . . .. to show up and, when it’s . . . . . . . . . . . into its . . . . . . .. I’ll be free, somehow. That’s what I want to say, but I know the difference between reality and fantasy, and how j-horror more closely resembles the former.

“How so?” I ask.

“Yes, yes, I do,” I answer.

Well, I’m glad I had that little dialogue with myself so that I can explain. American horror, as has been well documented and dissected, works on a morality principle. You do bad things, you die, you get mutilated, you get tortured, you die, you die, you die. Sex = death. Drugs = death. Skipping school = death. Sticking out your tongue = death. Do you like candy? Dead. Rap music? Plugged. Child of a divorced parent? I’ll give you 50/50.

I’d like to blame being here on some sin in the past, say, a predilection for bad movies. Instead, I have to admit that I was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. Here are some morals from j-horror films.

The Grudge: Don’t enter houses.

Spiral: Don’t live in towns.

The Ring: Don’t watch video tapes.

Audition: Don’t look for a wife so that your motherless child can have a mother and a normal family life.

Notice a trend? Answer: Don’t. If you answer, that means you’re taking part in living, which means you’re liable to die, just like everyone else, in some horrible, horrible fashion that is either impossible to avoid or, by the time you figure out the mystery, only escapable after numberless innocents have died.

So why is that more real? Because it’s not the usual response (caveat: anymore) to say of someone who died horribly, Oh, they deserved that. Run down by a drunk driver. Inherited syphilis. Nuclear bomb. You die, simply because you take that chance, like everyone, while you live.

This is disturbing to me. (read: See Audition) Horrific. At least it would be if I wasn’t already inside the mirror. So, if you’re reading this, I’ve one final bit of advice.

Don’t . . . . .. the . . . . . . .

.sexelfer no gnitcelfer elihw noitcelfer sih ni stcelfer amzoK werdnA

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