OCTOBER 30, 2010
If one factors in a handicap for the pedigree (the director of Return to House on Haunted Hill vs the director of High Tension), the cast (Nick Stahl vs Kiefer Sutherland), and the budgets (no idea, but Mirrors was a theatrical summer release and this was tossed DTV), Mirrors 2 is actually a better film than the original. Whereas the original was a disappointment, this was a decent enough viewing, hampered only by its familiarity and clunky, exposition-filled third act.
It’s also a bit too similar to Shutter, which is also a FOX remake of an Asian film (which should have gone DTV itself). Like that film, our “villain” is actually an innocent victim seeking revenge against the folks involved with her sexual attack, which is all well and good, but it also results in a movie where the villain is never posing a threat to our heroes. She’s only after the four folks who helped in her murder (and its coverup), neither of which are Nick Stahl or Emmanuelle Vaugier. So as a result, our heroes don’t really DO anything in the movie, just sort of run around seeing stuff happen and explaining it aloud to the audience. At least in Shutter we had the Rachel Taylor character to learn about the story and her husband’s involvement, but here we don’t have that tragic connection. There’s a brief hint that Stahl’s dad (William Katt, who looks like an old David Spade) might be involved, but the ghost doesn’t get him and then he doesn’t appear in the movie again, so he’s just pointless padding. Nice to see the guy though.
But it delivers a few nice kills (courtesy of KNB), and a couple more than were in the original to boot. It’s the same thing – the reflection does something and it causes the equal harm to the real person, but they get a bit more creative with it – we see reflections on shower glass, pizza cutters, etc. The final villain gets killed inside the mirror – we just see his blood being splattered all over the image (from the inside) as he gets his just desserts. There’s also a cool effect where we see the “mirror world”, with the cracks in the image stretching out in three dimensional space. It’s hard to describe, but it’s a visually interesting and unique idea. As with Return to House on Haunted Hill, Victor Garcia displays a knack for strong visuals, he’s just once again saddled with a lacking script. Hopefully his Hellraiser sequel turns out good and allows him to move up the chain a bit and take on an original property for once.
Also, even though the movie is “safer” than its original (no grim ending here), they take advantage of the DVD/unrated leeway. The deaths are gorier than the ones in the original, and we get a lengthy and hilariously gratuitous shower scene, featuring Christy Romano, who’s the type of actress you figure would never do her own nude scene. Why? Because she’s the voice of Kim Possible! I felt kind of dirty when I found that out, but goddamn – the lass has a body worth showing off.
I was also pleased to see that it was shot in Baton Rouge. It’s actually kind of backwards – the original was shot in Romania, which is usually where they do DTV stuff like this, but the sequel went somewhere less generic. They don’t really use the city much (compared to say Hard Target), but even the minor suburban streets and such that we see add a layer of production value and character that these things usually lack. Again, it’s not really that great of a movie, but it’s one with a lot of effort put into it on the production side of things, and that is to be commended.
Two things really irked me though. One is a flashback featuring Stahl proposing to his wife in the weirdest way possible – he’s driving and has her climb into the back seat to find his “phone”, but it’s really the ring he wants her to find. Who proposes to someone when they can’t even kiss or embrace after the “Yes”? Unless, of course, he was expecting her to say “No”, in which case it would be a good idea to have her in the back seat to dispel some of the awkwardness. The other is even worse – Stahl finds a “MISSING” poster that he saw Vaugier putting up earlier (in her only scene until the 50 or so minute mark), which clearly displays the date the girl disappeared. And he uses the poster to find her, and then asks, TWICE, when she disappeared (she also offers the information right off the bat, before she even knows what he’s doing there). Is he mentally disabled or something? Why can’t he remember? Christ even I remember the date (September 22, a Wednesday) and I have no involvement in the proceedings. Perhaps the prop guy wasn’t supposed to put the date on it, but even so, why does he need to be told three times?
The pair of deleted scenes on the DVD don’t provide an answer... or anything, really. One hints that Stahl and Vaugier might hook up when all this crazy killer mirror stuff is over, the other just adds more exposition that doesn’t matter to the climax. The other extras are pretty good though; a making of that’s really a better than usual collection of interviews with the actors describing their characters and talking about filming their death scenes when applicable. It actually starts with the film’s climax, however, so don’t watch it until you’ve seen the movie, if you planned to for some bizarre reason. The other takes a look at KNB’s FX work, which is quite enjoyable. KNB is one of the best FX houses of all time, as far as I’m concerned, and they’ve really done a great job of combining practical and CG effects to keep everyone happy, so I’m always happy to watch them do their thing (and kudos to FOX for shelling out the dough to hire them for a DTV flick). Then there’s a bunch of trailers for stuff like Dollhouse Season 2, for some reason.
If you haven’t seen the original, I’d suggest just watching this one. You won’t be as familiar with the basic premise, and the film is practically a remake for its first half hour (did Stahl have to be a night watchman again, like Sutherland was?). But the backstory is slightly more interesting here (and less confusing), there are more kills, and its 20 minutes shorter. On the flipside, no one says “Be careful of the water, it creates reflections!”, so you make the call.
What say you?