Mirrors 2
Fox // Unrated // $29.99 // October 19, 2010
Review by Adam Tyner | posted October 23, 2010
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Graphical Version
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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
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fret if you never got around to catching the original Mirrors...or, well, the American remake of the original movie, at least. This sequel doesn't directly tie into it at all, although plenty of the same leftovers have been tossed back into the microwave. You're looking at another mammoth department store that's not yet open to the public, and all the mirrors in this shiny new branch of the Mayflower chain are also haunted by some kind of spirit hellbent on vengeance. There's another shellshocked security guard, taking over for some schlub who'd hacked himself apart, and he gets caught up in trying to uncover the dark, sticky history associated with the place. ...and there's another love interest type who gets dragged in, people see coldly staring reflections of themselves in the mirror and start butchering themselves...it's a whole thing.

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.
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Max is there because the movie needs a hero type, but he's a backstory...some sweaty, nervous tics...a plot device: not a character so much. Seriously, watch Mirrors 2 and try to tell me anything -- anything at all! -- about his personality. You can't 'cause he doesn't really have one. Same deal with Emmanuelle Vaugier. She's on the bill because this sort of movie requires some kind of female lead, and it helps a direct-to-video flick to cast a familiar face in the part. Elizabeth wants to know what happened to her sister, and that's just about the beginning and end of what she brings to the table. Well, that and chauffering Max around too. Whatever.

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...?

"Lots of psychic baggage in them there mirrors, huh?"
"So, I guess I'm doing pretty well, then?"
"In light of all you've been through combined with all the superstitions we hold regarding mirrors, I'd say you're doing pretty good indeed."

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Well, obviously there's that psychiatric exposition machine I just quoted. There are also a couple of hammy detectives who never really factor into anything that's going on...just to toss on some lukewarm drama to make it seem as if Max might be on the hook for all these deaths, although that never comes across as a credible threat either. They also complete each other's sentences Xamot-and-Tomax style, and that's kind of hard for me to stomach. A few lazy jump scares -- including the stale old hand-on-the-shoulder trick, twice! -- are sprinkled around in here in a failed attempt at amping up the energy, but it all falls flat. The climax is staggeringly ineffective, rooted around an easy-to-guess villain type who goes to great lengths to ensure that his captives can quickly dart out of harm's way.

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
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showcased in this six-channel, 24-bit DTS-HD Master Audio track doesn't leave much room for complaint either. The fidelity is just about perfect: everything is rendered with impressive clarity, and really, chewed glass and cracking mirrors never sounded so terrific. Mirrors 2 shies away from the usual onslaught in the lower frequencies, but this is still very much a full-bodied mix, and the sound effects that do rely more on bass -- the ghostly pounding on the mirrors in particular -- pack a wallop when it counts. The surrounds aren't really used to heighten the scares, but they do add a strong sense of place: reverb in some of the more cavernous backdrops, sirens whirring in the background, and torrential downpours of rain, natch. Key moments also take full advantage of the rear channels, sending bullets pinging from one speaker to the next and scattering shards of glass in every direction. The score also fills every channel, although I wish the rest of it would've been as memorable as the terrific stabbing strings that play over the opening titles. The film's dialogue remains consistently clean and clear throughout as well. It's not the flashiest horror soundtrack I've stumbled across, but the lossless audio is really effective just the same, complements the material very well, and is without a doubt better than I waltzed in expecting.

No dubs or downmixes this time around. Subtitles are limited to the usual English (SDH), Spanish, and French.

  • Into the Mirror (113 min.; SD): It does require popping in the accompanying DVD, sure, but Mirrors 2 still passes for a double feature. The flipside of that DVD serves up Into the Mirror, the Korean film that was remade on these shores as Mirrors. As far as I know, this marks its first home video release in the U.S. The presentation isn't great -- speckled, muddy, and dull -- but it is in anamorphic widescreen, so there's that.

  • Watch Mirrors 2 with the Woman in the Mirror: How's that for a catchy title? Anyway, "...Woman in the Mirror" is a picture-in-picture feature that runs throughout Mirrors 2. Periodically, a window'll pop up replaying a scene from a mirror's perspective -- sometimes flipping the imagery, sometimes not -- and hinting at who's going to die with grisly spurts of footage and...y'know, a finger scrawling the word "DIE". That sort of thing. This footage is tinted a bile yellowish-green and all too. The concept is kind of neat, I guess, but it isn't active throughout the entire movie, and when it does pop up, the audio is garbled, hollow, and pretty much completely indiscernable. I get what they're trying to do, but why would I want to devote an hour and a half to a feature where I can't make out a bunch of the dialogue? This isn't like an audio commentary where something substantial takes its place. Kind of just an empty novelty, and I don't think I made it more than 15 minutes before I had to turn it off.

  • Deleted Scenes (2 min.; HD): Two additional snippets have been piled on here, clocking in at right at a minute a pop.
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    First up is a quick look at Max holding Elizabeth's hand in her sedan, and that's about the closest they get to a love scene. The other addition extends the flashback to the tragedy that brought about this whole thing, although it's just showing you what other characters have already spoken at length about, so there's no real gain here. Amusingly enough, though, there's a date flashed on screen that's several months off from when that scene is supposed to be taking place.

  • The Other Side: Making Mirrors 2 (10 min.; HD): The first of Mirrors 2's making-of featurettes is a bit better than average. It doesn't bother with the promotional bent that these types of extras are usually saddled with: nope, it's light on excerpts from the movie and heaps on one spoiler after another, so definitely don't tune into this before polishing off the flick. It's more about the concept than the nuts and bolts of production, delving into its contained, allegedly character-driven approach, veering away from more traditional gothic horror imagery, and touching on each of the main characters. The director, a couple of producers, and quite a few of Mirrors 2's cast are given a chance to chime in.

  • Keeping It Real: The Visual and Special Effects of Mirrors 2 (12 min.; HD): The more technical end of things is tackled in Mirrors 2's second behind-the-scenes snippet. The discussion swirls mostly around KNB's extensive make-up effects work -- lopping off heads, spurting blood through paper-thin skin, the fake legs used to slice open some Achilles tendons, a chest-bursting appliance, and all that -- as well as the melding of those practical effects with CGI to bring 'em all to life. The impressive shot that closes out the climax is also covered here. Since the splatter really is the star of the flick, it's great to see it explored in this sort of detail.

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.

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