This is my Halloween Challenge film #23. It was recommended to me months ago by my good friend Henry from Iran as the scariest film he knows. I didn't watch it until now because most of the reviews are bad. In particular, it only holds a 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I really should stop taking Rotten Tomatoes seriously. It's a stupid web site quoting the opinions of stupid film critics who sit in ivory towers, far removed from the reality of what cinema audiences enjoy. The Rotten Tomatoes critics wouldn't know a good film if it slapped them in the face. This is a very good film that I'm now determined to watch again.
Kiefer Sutherland stars as Ben Carson, an ex-policeman suspended from duty because he shot a colleague in the line of duty. After almost a year of unemployment he starts a job as a security guard at a derelict department store, the Mayflower, previously the most luxurious department store in New York. It was badly damaged in an arson attack five years previously, but it still hasn't been restored due to legal battles with the insurance company. While waiting for the issues to be resolved the store has to be guarded 24 hours a day to prevent further acts of vandalism.
The Mayflower is an unsettling labyrinth of deserted rooms and corridors, damaged by the flames. Only the large mirrors are in perfect condition. Ben begins to see threatening images in the mirrors that aren't in the rooms behind him. This isn't confined to the store, he also begins to see things in the mirrors at home, and so do his other family members. The film becomes terrifying, because mirrors are everywhere, we can't escape them.
As the film developed and it became clear that a young woman who lived in the building 50 years previously was somehow involved I had the feeling that it was a Japanese-style film. I found out afterwards that it's a remake of a Korean film, "Into the Mirror". A quasi-remake, that is. From what I've read the premise is the same, but the story has been rewritten.
The film took a while to build up steam, but by the time it reached the second half I was fascinated and couldn't look away. This is definitely a film to watch again.
Ben Carson reads newspaper clips about the arson attack on the Mayflower. I don't know why he bothered highlighting the text in the first column. It's repeated below, then three times in the second column and yet again in the third column. Click on the picture above for a larger view. Maria Romano is a very poor journalist. Sloppy.
Here's another newspaper clip, also written by Maria Romano, printed on the same day, presumably for a different newspaper. The text is also repeated over and over again. Very sloppy.
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