Blu-ray Disc Review
Release Date: January 13, 2009.
Starring: Kiefer Sutherland (Ben Carson), Paula Patton (Amy Carson), (Amy Smart) Angela Carson, Jason Flemyng (Larry Byrne)
Screenplay by: Alexandre Aja & Gregory Levasseur
Directed by: Alexandre Aja
There Is Evil………On The Other Side
Ben Carson is a cop on leave with post-traumatic stress syndrome. He takes a job as a night watchman at the Mayflower department store that was burned in a large fire. As he gets to know the interior of the building in the middle of the night, the mirrors haunt him. Frightened and confused, the mirrors reflect horrors from the past and also seem to be a gateway to another reality. An evil force lurks behind the mirrors; a deadly demonic force and it threatens him by terrorizing him and his family if it doesn’t get what it wants. But the mirror’s demand remains a mystery to Ben until he’s forced to investigate it or die. The world is full of reflections and he can’t escape the haunting so he’s determined to satisfy this demon and bring the horrors to an end.
Thankfully Mirrors doesn’t become predictable and dwell on the main character’s improper frame of mind due to the drugs he’s taking to cope with his decisions. We’ve all seen too many films where the protagonist is not believed by anyone because of some overly medicated post-traumatic excuse. Instead, we see that the character that is cleaned up and makes an attempt to deal with what he sees. It brings some scares to the screen and some gore that’s been missing from horror movies lately. One of my favourite scare moments is at the 41:24 mark: I didn’t find it too scary, although I thought Sutherland’s frightened reaction to it was funny because no one else knew what the heck was going on with him.
This is the “unrated” version of the film. It’s ten seconds longer than the theatrical version. I’m not sure where the added footage is, but I think a second or two extends some of the horrific death scenes.
Fox continues with forced trailers. This disc includes Max Payne, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, and Valkyrie.
VIDEO QUALITY: 5/5
This is a nice looking film that is pleasant throughout. Interior scenes look great, such as when we meet Ben’s family for the first time in Chapter 5. The close-ups of his wife’s face reveal all natural skin textures without appearing smoothed over. Contrast that with Sutherland’s unshaven cheeks, this high definition image reveals all that is to be seen, and is tweaked in a way that it gives it an artist’s touch, but yet still looks real enough to not be distracting.
Since Ben works the night shift, the film has many dark moments. A little bit of moonlight and the dim glow from his flashlight is all we get sometimes, but the final product does not disappoint. The creators ensured there was enough light so the viewer is able to see what is happening at all times. I never got confused as to what I was seeing in these dark places. Black level is deep and shadow detail is exceptional creating the perfect blend as to what we are to see and what is supposed to be hidden.
Film grain appears to be intact as its amount is consistent in every scene throughout the film. It’s mostly noticed in Amy’s house, and it gives the film a texture that is comforting to view. Edge enhancement is not present. All detail feels real and natural, and not artificially enhanced. The only drawback is the film’s CGI of the burnt Mayflower mall. While the bottom/entrance appears to be real, the pans of the long tall building appear artificial, so image depth is compromised compared to distances between real objects.
AUDIO QUALITY: 4/5
Mirrors have a very good front soundstage that is charged with music and sound effects helping make it an effective thriller. It sometimes extends beyond the mains and surrounds are presented at a volume level that helps pull the front soundstage to the back. Rear effects aren’t standout obvious, but noticeable enough to make it pleasing. Dialogue is clear, but a bit too heavy. I engaged re-EQ with this title because I don’t think it’s been adjusted for home theatre playback. It appears a bit too aggressive at some frequencies (even some effects are just too much). It would be so much nicer if all theatre soundtracks were remixed for home theatre playback. This would give the sound mixers the ability to monitor for more depth and detail, and probably for more dynamic range. This title just seems a bit too compressed for me and sometimes tends to go for maximum loudness across the board (eg. Gunshots to the mirrors aren’t that dramatic).
Bass junkies will like this title though, as it does have its share of low frequencies pulsating throughout the room. In chapter 6, as Ben investigates the downstairs of the Mayflower for the first time, bass radiates in the room from the main channels and LFE. It’s a warm, floppy bass that creates a cool audible sensation, and provides a good balance to the other frequencies.
TACTILE FUN!!: 3/5
TRANSDUCER ON/OFF?: ON
Mirrors has an effective LFE and will give bass shakers more rumble. It helps with the scares and makes the movie more intense. What’s even better is that this title has a D-Box motion code for those with D-Box simulators.
SPECIAL FEATURES: 2/5
Selecting the theatrical or extended cut of the film is accessed from disc start or the special features menu. The BonusView feature on this disc is a commentary with Alexandre Aja (writer/director) and Gregory Levasseur (writer/producer), and behind the scenes footage appears on screen during many portions of the film. This can be activated only when the theatrical version is selected.
A host of featurettes are available. First is the Anna Esseker Hospital footage (4:3, SD, 5:33), some of which was used in the film as flashbacks). Its “filmed” to look like old footage and most of the audio is music except for the screaming Anna during the height of her possession by the demon.
Reflections: The Making of Mirrors (16:9, SD, 48:40) features the producers and director of the film, discussion how they got the film off the ground, to the studio, and made as the final film.
Behind the Mirror (16:9, SD, 18:22) – features folklorists, the producer, and actors discussing mirrors as a part of human culture and history.
Animated Storyboard Sequence (HD, 1:19) is of Angela’s bathtub sequence.
Deleted and alternate scenes with commentary (4:3LBX, SD, 15:37). They are interesting to watch, but I think the decision to cut them was a good thing. They aren’t polished like the rest of the film, it has stereo audio and effects aren’t complete.
A digital copy is provided for portable media players (access code expires in 2011).
Fox still doesn’t provide the film’s theatrical trailer on the film’s disc, but I know you can find it as a forced trailer on another Fox BD title. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
IN THE END...
After hearing mediocre reviews on this film, I thought the film deserved better. While not entirely original, the movie does provide a few scares and a bit of gore for the genre. The video and audio are good performers and there isn’t a bad set of features here. Mirrors is worth looking in to.
January 18, 2009.