Review: ‘Mirrors’

Special to The Times

Hollywood, where vanity can seem not a vice but a virtue, would presumably love mirrors. Not so in “Mirrors,” a ridiculous studio remake of a Korean horror film where at a burnt-out old department store, the new night-shift security guard (Kiefer Sutherland), a disgraced ex-cop, finds that the mirrors are home to evil, murderous spirits.

Directed by Frenchman Alexandre Aja, this isn’t the sort of movie that’s supposed to make sense or hang together in a way that vaguely resembles the actual world. It is here to be freaky and fun, an entertainment for those of us who enjoy watching, from the remove of movie-dom, a woman rip her own jaw off. In that it is a moderate success, if still more a modest diversion than a bold exploration of the horror genre. An old lady explodes and within the structure of the narrative, that’s a good thing. Then she comes back as a possessed demon. That’s bad.

Paula Patton plays Sutherland’s estranged wife, but she’s mostly there to wear a wet, white tank-top while corralling the obligatory children-in-peril. Amy Smart plays the sympathetic sister of Sutherland’s character but is actually there to drop her robe for a bath that ends badly (and provides the film with its money-shot moment of icky gore).

“Mirrors” is really the Kiefer Show, and Sutherland’s drastically limited range is somehow right for the role -- he pretty much has two modes as a performer, either quietly seething or barking loudly with his cigarette-raspy voice. Throughout the R-rated film, Sutherland gets to swear like a sailor, something he can’t do on TV’s “24,” and he relishes the opportunity. He even cusses at a nun.

Known for such flashy trash as the nonsensical “High Tension” and the wearingly gruesome remake of “The Hills Have Eyes,” Aja is the sort of director whom movie executives presumably love. Unencumbered by such niceties as logic, reality or the extended metaphors that can make horror films trenchant examinations of who we really are, Aja crafts films that are both dazzling constructions and utterly hollow endeavors. An empty enterprise that provides a few moments of goofy fun, “Mirrors” reflects back nothing.

“Mirrors.” Rated R. 1 Hour, 50 minutes. In wide release.