Y'know, I was trying to think of some clever way to kick off this review, but that screenshot is way better than any gag or goofy pun I could ever dream up.
So, yeah: Mirrors 2. Don't
Anyway, Nick Stahl stars as Max, who's still reeling from the death of his fiancee-for-twenty-seconds when he was behind the wheel. He's spent the past year gobbling down pills and chugging down gallons of booze, but his father (William Katt) is too much of a great American hero to let the kid piss away the rest of his life like that. The upscale Mayflower department store he's launching in New Orleans needs a new nightwatchman -- the last guy apparently went nuts and chomped on a bunch of broken glass -- and I guess multimillionaire entrepreneur types take filling those kinds of job openings into their own hands. Anyway, as Max makes his rounds through the not-yet-opened Mayflower, he starts spotting the higher-ups being slaughtered in the mirrors throughout the store. Shortly after their reflections off themselves, the genuine articles wind up dead and sopping with blood too. What does the ghostly figure that's also skulking around the store's mirrors have to do with all this? Does it have anything to do with the mysterious disappearance of another employee a couple weeks back...y'know, the girl whose sister (Emmanuelle Vaugier) keeps putting up 'missing person' flyers everywhere? This is me waiting for you to finish guessing.
Maybe this is getting a little too hi-I-took-one-semester-of-film-in-college for your tastes, but there's just not a really strong dramatic hook. At the end of the day, Max is never really in harm's way. Outside of flashbacks, the worst thing that actually happens to him is being spooked a couple of times and having a furnace briefly nudged in front of him. No one he cares about ever winds up in the Mirror Girl's crosshairs either. Yeah, yeah, there is a very brief scare with his father, but nothing comes of it, and that whole thing doesn't really fit into the rest of the movie's logic anyway. It's tough to feel invested in a flick where the lead character is just kind of being nudged around, without standing much of anything to lose or gain either way. I'd chalk myself up as a fan of Nick Stahl's, but Mirrors 2 just doesn't give him much of anything to do.
Don't get me wrong: I don't need lush characterization in my horror flicks. Sure, I think it helps ratchet up the tension if you give a shit about anyone in front of the camera, but that's not a dealbreaker. Gimme some decent scares, a few unnervingly suspenseful setpieces, plenty of splatter, or...hell, I'm male, reasonably young, and shallow...some T&A, and it's a date. Mirrors 2 definitely delivers on the T&A, with Christy Carlson Romano showing off pretty much every last square inch of her skin for a shower scene. It's not a quick blink-and-oops-it's-gone flash or anything either, so...yeah. Kind of a surprise considering she's still seared into my brain as Ren Stevens and Kim Possible from the Disney Channel. Wait, where was I going with all this? Oh, right. Boobs. Check. Butt. Check. Blood...? Yeah. Mirrors 2 is sloshing around some pretty solid splatter, courtesy of the gorehounds at KNB. The on-camera murders are impressively lengthy and elaborate, and a couple of 'em even seem more like two-kills-in-one. I mean, a security guard munches on handfuls of glass until shards and blood start dribbling out of his shredded cheeks and throat. One poor bastard slices open his Achilles tendons and disembowels himself. The girl with all the jiggly parts is sliced to ribbons after tumbling through a shower door and then...well, I posted a screenshot of that too, so the smart money says you already know what happens there. Those sequences are all pulled off really well, but that's it. The rest of the kills are either false starts, bloodless deaths in flashbacks, or take place off-camera.
It's mentioned in one of the extras that given the movie's direct-to-video budget, Mirrors 2 opted to have a small handful of really well-executed kills rather than an onslaught of dodgy looking ones, and they'd fill in everything in between with really strong characterization. It's a nice enough idea, sure, but the execution's lacking. What passes for characterization remains really flat throughout, and the body count still winds up being disappointingly light. Sure, there's a good bit of the red stuff sloshed around in a few scenes, but I never felt my own blood pumping: there really isn't anything in the same time zone as tension or suspense lurking around in here. The cast does the best with what they're given, but the dialogue can be really cringeworthy. Case in point...?
Don't get me wrong: there are some things about Mirrors 2 that I certainly respect. It's cast well, to be sure. Víctor García directs with a confident, assured hand, not leaning on spastic quick-cutting or a jittery shutter speed as a crutch. Setting the movie against a series of gleaming, thoroughly modern backdrops rather than the usual dingy, decaying haunted house types helps the movie stand out from the rest of the lot. KNB's makeup effects are as spectacular as ever. Despite everything else the climax gets wrong, the daunting scale and intricate precision behind its final shot are impossible not to appreciate. All of that just isn't nearly enough to make up for how slow-moving and uninvolving the rest of the movie is. I do think that this sequel is a step up over the original Mirrors, but standing out as just kinda dull rather than aggressively awful really doesn't make for all that much of a recommendation. If you've gotta watch Mirrors 2, my vote would be to Rent It.
Mirrors 2 looks kinda gorgeous in high-def, really. This digital production is exceptionally crisp and detailed, and the photography is consistently clean and clear throughout. Sidestepping film altogether, there obviously isn't any speckling or film grain to intrude, and even with as low as the light is frequently dialed down, no CCD noise ever creeps in either. The cinematography generally emphasizes one color in any given scene -- drenching everything in an icy blue, desaturating it all to an overcast gray, or baking it in a golden yellow, to rattle off a few -- and there's enough variety to keep it all looking somewhat lively. Black levels are deep and inky throughout as well, and even though the photography can get pretty dark, I never ran into any trouble making out what's going on. The authoring seems consistently solid too. The presentation on this Blu-ray disc isn't dragged down by any edge enhancement or heavy-handed noise reduction, and I couldn't spot any artifacting. I really don't have any gripes about the presentation at all.
Mirrors 2 is served up on a single layer Blu-ray platter, and the unmatted 1.78:1 video has been encoded with AVC. The second disc in the set is a DVD that serves up Mirrors 2 in standard definition. There's no digital copy, but you can play a DVD on pretty much anything anyway, so who needs it?
The sound design
No dubs or downmixes this time around. Subtitles are limited to the usual English (SDH), Spanish, and French.
The Final Word
This direct-to-video sequel really is better than the original Mirrors in a lot of ways, but...yeah. Still not nearly good enough to actually recommend. If you are a fan of the original, though, chances are you'll find Mirrors 2 worth a couple of clicks on Netflix, and the inclusion of the Korean film Into the Mirror that inspired it all is a definite plus as well. Rent It.