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You might say that Ben Carson took some time off to reflect on his life.
Ben—a former New York detective, former alcoholic, former good husband and father—has been a mess ever since he accidentally killed a fellow police officer. That's not something you can just "get over," Ben says, and he acknowledges that the last few months have been tough on everyone. He's sleeping on his sister's couch these days—not at home with his wife and kids—and his behavior is still a bit erratic.
But Ben tells wife, Amy, "I'm doing everything I can to get back on my feet again." He swears he hasn't had a drink in three months (though he's taking some serious prescriptions to keep off the stuff), he's trying to stay a little more composed around Amy (who makes him nervous) and he even got a new job (as a night watchman) to help make ends meet.
Which is all dandy. Just dandy.
Or it would've been, had Ben wound up with Ben Stiller's job at the nearby natural history museum (à la Night at the Museum). Instead, Ben guards a deserted department store that was gutted by fire a few years back, killing scores of shoppers and leaving the interior as creepy as a crispy coffin. No one's bothered to even loot the place, meaning the display cases, dressing room curtains and a veritable army of charred mannequins are all still there, solemnly watching hapless night watchmen.
Ben isn't so worried about the mannequins, though. What really freaks him out are the department store mirrors—and it's not because he hates the way they make his thighs look in his work outfit. No, these mirrors seem to be watching him—sometimes showing him things he'd rather not see, making him feel things he'd rather not feel. Odd, isn't it, how the mirrors are in such pristine condition when the rest of the place is such a dive? Turns out, the previous night watchmen had taken to obsessively polishing them, almost as if his life depended on it.
He stopped when he killed himself—slashing his own throat in a subway restroom. The weapon? A shard of broken mirror.
Ben loves his wife and kids. Amy loves her husband and kids. The kids love their mom and dad (though they do wonder why Daddy barges into their house and paints all their mirrors with green latex). It's a very loving family. And they're willing to go to extreme lengths to protect one another from malevolent mirrors.
At first, when Ben starts babbling about how the mirrors are out to get him and his family, the people closest to him figure he's lost whatever remained of his mental marble collection. But we learn that the mirrors are a window to another realm, and that the force (or forces?) on the other side could well be demonic.
We know this because a nun tells us so—a very gentle and kind nun who, as a demon-possessed 12-year-old, helped launch this mirror madness. When she was admitted as a girl to St. Matthews Hospital—an asylum that once stood on the site where the department store is now—she underwent a curious and rather abusive form of mirror therapy (very common, I hear, in Hollywood these days), and the mirrors sucked all the demonic forces out of her.
Great, right? Well, except the forces within the mirrors apparently wanted their little plaything back. So her parents shipped the girl off to a monastery, where mirrors are forbidden.
Great, right? Well, except that the mirrors blackmail every night watchman they see to find the nun, with Ben being the one to finally figure out where she's at. He takes the nun (at gunpoint, though the nun seems to go willingly after a bit) to the department store, where she allows herself to be possessed by the mirror monsters (an event which shatters all the mirrors in the building). This turns her into a bloody, rabid, nun-girl-beast-demon that's determined to kill Ben and perhaps destroy the entire mirror-loving human race, if given the chance.
Ben's adult sister, Angela, gets into a bath, and audiences see her nude from the side. We see Amy gallop through her house in a white, wet top that shows her bra underneath. We also see a charred ghost from the past expose a breast—though the breast, frankly, seems to be missing its skin. Ben gives Amy a deeply passionate kiss.
Director Alexandre Aja clearly got some sort of bulk, fake-blood discount at the local Goreco and didn't want it to go to waste. What else could have compelled him to spew so much of it around?
His film hits stride early with a guy (or, rather, his mirror doppelgänger) stabbing himself in the neck and gleefully dragging the blade across it, resulting in squirting blood, visible muscle and massive amounts of gore. And it takes off at a gallop from there. Audiences see autopsies with open chest cavities, pictures of bloody killings and people being burned alive. One such victim screams and moans piteously while writhing on the floor, showcasing all manner of hideous burns. Ben's 6-year-old son sees the same woman, silently screaming, reflected in his mirror at home.
Ben himself is tricked into thinking he's being burned alive (we see the flames engulf his body), and his hand gets gashed by (three guesses) a mirror. He sees his reflection "melt" for a second before everything snaps back into place. But the biggest threat to Ben's personal safety comes from the girl-nun-monster who, after getting seemingly blown to bits by mirror shards during her transformation, attacks him with ferocity and glee. It barely slows down when Ben impales it on some sort of pipe. (Yes, it's bloody. Why wouldn't it be considering the buy-a-bucket-get-a-bucket-free deal discussed earlier?)
Ben tries to dole out punishment on his reflective adversaries, too, hitting one very large mirror with various objects before taking out his gun and shooting it. (The glass, alas, heals itself.) He later shoots a mirror at home—just to show his wife that he's not crazy. (The mirror refuses to cooperate.)
A mirror image cuts Ben's daughter on the neck, and another slashes Amy across the cheek. Amy almost drowns in the bathtub, and her son is kidnapped and taken to a watery, otherworldly place where he nearly drowns. We see flashbacks, showcasing the nun's various girlhood "treatments"—and the treatment she gets at home, where she's kept in a basement cell.
It's all pretty horrific.
But the real I-can't-believe-they-just-did-that scene takes place shortly after Angela climbs into the tub: Her mirror image slowly rips her own jawbone off her face. The "real" Angela suffers the same fate, and we see her sprawled in the blood-soaked water, her jawbone floating in the water (still attached to her face by a few threads of skin).
Ben throws up when he sees the body. Who can blame him?
Crude or Profane Language
About 10 f-words and five s-words. Jesus' and God's names are forcefully abused a handful of times each. Milder expletives include "d--n," "h---" and "a--."
Drug and Alcohol Content
Angela is a bartender, and Ben visits her at her bar once.But as a recovering alcoholic, he never drinks during the course of the story, and in one scene he pushes a bottle of Jack Daniel's away so he can reach for some instant coffee. But the drugs he's taking may not be much better. Indeed, Amy initially thinks his prescription medicine could be the reason Ben seems to be hallucinating. When she asks to see Ben's bottle of pills, she looks them over and says, "That's some pretty strong medication." Then she asks him how many pills he's taking a day. Ben doesn't answer, shoving the bottle back into his pocket.
Other Negative Elements
Ben lies his way into both the nun's old family house and the monastery, and later takes the nun by gunpoint back to the department store. All of these things, it should be noted, Ben does to save his wife and kids. But still, pointing a gun at a nun just seems so wrong.
Alexandre Aja (already responsible for assailing the movie world with The Hills Have Eyes) is a member of the so-called Splat Pack—a group of horror directors that includes Eli Roth (Hostel, Hostel: Part II) and James Wan (Saw). Most of these folks have had their share of run-ins with the MPAA over ratings, as might be expected. But maybe those days are behind them now. Aja says the ratings board was surprisingly kind to Mirrors.
"I'm still in shock of what they let us do," he told Dread Central. "We have the movie we want. I don't think I even have enough footage to do an unrated one."
There's no comfort in that since today's R is yesterday's unrated. Mirrors is a bloody, barren movie, a terrible waste of both fake blood—discount-priced or not—and good multiplex screen space.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Kiefer Sutherland as Ben Carson; Paula Patton as Amy Carson; Cameron Boyce as Michael Carson; Erica Gluck as Daisy Carson; Amy Smart as Angela Carson
20th Century Fox