In a classic bit from the Marx brothers movie Duck Soup, Groucho and Harpo are on two sides of a mirror, with the latter disguised as the former, wearing pajamas and a greasepaint mustache. The mirror shatters, but the illusion persists: The two Grouchos stare at each other, make funny faces, and even do the ha-cha-cha. Then things get really absurd. Alexandre Aja's Mirrors is the overlong horror version of the Duck Soup gag, picking up on the concept that when you look into a mirror, the mirror is also looking into you. It's alive like Harpo, an entity that reflects, distorts, and ultimately inspires Kiefer Sutherland to shoot, smash, hide, or paint over every reflective surface that comes into his field of vision. Based on this movie, Sutherland is in for approximately 3,500 years of bad luck.
In full Jack Bauer mode, Sutherland plays a former police detective and recovering alcoholic dismissed from duty after accidentally shooting his partner. Desperate to scrape together enough money to make rent and keep up with alimony and child-support payments to his ex-wife (Paula Patton) and two kids, Sutherland takes a night-watchman job at the burned-out ruins of a New York City department store. The former night watchman committed suicide under mysterious circumstances, and before long, Sutherland figures out that the store's haunted mirrors had something to do with it. The mirrors not only terrorize him on the job, they start menacing him and his family wherever they can get a reflection—on water, on silver door handles, on butcher knives.
As part of a new wave in extreme French horror cinema, Aja (High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes) has style to burn, and he isn't afraid to go for gruesome, hard-R effects in an increasingly glossy PG-13 genre. But his pedal-to-the-metal intensity only serves to heighten the film's fundamental ridiculousness; between Aja's fancy flash-cuts and assaultive imagery, and Sutherland treating his rearview mirror like a button-lipped terror suspect on 24, the film looks to do for reflective surfaces what Amityville 4 did for killer lamps. Consider yourself warned: It may be impossible to look at your reflection again without sharing a giggle with the evil doppelgänger looking back at you.