Review: “Mirrors 2″ (2010, DVD)

Evan Jones in Mirrors 2

It’s not often that a direct-to-video sequel is materially better than its origin story. It’s even rarer for said sequels to exhibit more creativity, a more satisfying story, and better acting than the original.

Am I going to go on record and say that Mirrors 2 is actually a good movie? Hell, no – I’m drunk, but I’m not THAT drunk. But for what it’s worth, I found this direct-to-video sequel more watchable and more creative than the original, and not an entirely bad way to spend 80 minutes.

Alexandre Aja‘s Mirrors was, to me, a pretty worthless film: not good enough to enjoy, and not bad enough to warrant the satisfaction that comes with tearing apart a true stinker limb from misshapen limb. It was competent. It had a few interesting shots. It had a respectable amount of gore, one truly memorable kill scene, several middle-of-the-road actors, and a thoroughly reasonable Asian horror remake pedigree.

What it didn’t have? Kim Possible … butt-naked.

Christy Carlson Romano

Yes, seeing the chick that voiced hundreds of episodes of a wildly popular kiddie cartoon do extremely prominent nudity (and die a horrible, graphic, and kind of embarrassing death) is but one of the unexpected pleasures offered by Mirrors 2, a 2010 direct-to-video sequel to the middling original.

In a story only tangentially connected to the original (by – you guessed it – a mirror!), Nick Stahl plays Max Matheson, a man still reeling from the crash that killed his fiancee (while he was driving) and himself … although he got better. After the longest opening credits sequence known to man – seriously, it’s nearly a full 5 minutes of pretty, abstract, mirror-related images – Max gets a call from his father, played by William Katt, who hires him to come and work as a security guard at his department store.

I of course went into this film armed with a healthy amount of skepticism. And to be honest, the first ten minutes (not including the ridiculously-padded opening credits) did not do much to console me. First – The Greatest American Hero? With a PONYTAIL? Dear God. No one is spared.

Second, Greatest American Hero Dad’s “department store” doesn’t look REMOTELY like a department store. It’s clearly some office building or convention center or some shit that they threw a few mannequins in because they couldn’t get a real store as a location. (The DVD extras reveal that the location was, in fact, a museum.) It’s kind of like shooting all of Jaws on a hosed-down baseball field and pretending it’s Martha’s Vineyard.

But still, I held on. Even past the obvious and lamely-staged opening-scene security guard self-mutilation, which has apparently become this series’ trademark lead-in. Still – more entertaining use of a security guard than Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

From here we actually start to get a semblance of a plot: Turns out the glass-swallowing guard isn’t the first bit of oddness to manifest around the Mayflower We Swear to God It’s a Department Store: apparently a female employee vanished a few weeks back. I’m sure that won’t have any bearing on what we’re about to see. Nope. Nothing going on there.

Nick Stahl, on the phone with his agent

Naturally, once Max starts working at the non-department store he starts seeing this missing chippie in the mirror. But she doesn’t look particularly malevolent or violent, really – she’s just kind of hanging in the break room or lounging by an unconvincing furniture display. Maybe she’s just trying to return something?

Well, his imaginary friendship doesn’t last long, because this girl clearly has a bone to pick with some of her former colleagues, as evidenced by the fact that they start getting picked off in increasingly gruesome ways.

The gang’s all here!

First to go is Jenna McCarty (seriously), the store’s head buyer, who is played by aforementioned Kim Possible voicer Christy Carlson Romano.

In another death that echoes the original, Lindsay gets it in the shower (where Amy Smart got it in the bathtub), and she’s totally but-ass naked. And well- lit. And … did I mention naked? It actually made me uncomfortable to watch her soaping herself up for like 10 minutes and I was grateful when she finally got thrown through the shower door and was beheaded by a falling pane of glass. Whew! At least the forensics team can throw a sheet over her corpse.

Anyway, Max happens to have a vision of Jenna (topless, again) removing her own head in the electronics department. In an Eyes of Laura Mars-ish twist, he’s seeing the murders AS THE HAPPEN. Okay, whatever – his car crash and momentary death is making him all ESP-ish and who cares. I can live with it. In fact, I’m kind of alarmed that I’m not hating this movie yet and am still watching.

Max’s visions and the other deaths that follow (including a false lead involving his dad and … a pizza cutter? Yep, that’s a pizza cutter.) follow a pretty clear revenge formula – made all the clearer because it looks like we met all of the victims in the same scene, where they were actually introduced one-by-one. Thanks for doing the heavy lifting for us, Mirrors 2!

My favorite scene involves Ryan, the head of operations, played by just-handsome-enough Jon Michael Davis. We follow Ryan, a bachelor, home to his well-appointed apartment, where he proceeds to cook himself a balanced gourmet meal – complete with a well-appointed place setting for one! Are all straight guys this inspired when they eat alone? I blame Alton Brown.

Apparently the mirror isn’t as impressed by Ryan’s tablescape, because his reflection takes the steak knife, cuts open his own guts, and pulls out all his intestines and shit. If there’s a stronger way of letting someone know you don’t like their plating, I surely don’t know it.

Anyway, Max keeps following these murders – enlisting the help of the missing chica’s sister (played by Emmanuelle Vaugier), whom he spotted creatively hanging “HAVE YOU SEEN MY SISTER” posters around the non-store – and eventually uncovers the motive behind the killings and the true villains of the story. It’s all pretty ridiculous, but much more satisfying than the resolution of the preposterous original, which involved a mental hospital, psychic rage, and perfume counters or some shit.

I also liked how the ghost helps Max find important clues. In one fun sequence he shines his flashlight into the cursed mirror, which reflects the beam deep into the “store”, where it is in turn reflected by other mirrors until it spotlights an important clue. It’s kind of like the end of Legend, if you replace Tim Curry with a work ID.

Anyway, I’ll stop there. If you’re stuck on the couch with a hangover or need an unchallenging, mindless hour and a half of genre entertainment, you could definitely do worse.

RATING (OUT OF 5):

Mirrors 2 is Unrated and contains scenes of graphic, amusing violence, gratuitous Kim Possible boobage, and the worst-dressed set in history.


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