Into the Mirror (2003)
By: Devon B. on November 17, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
AVP Video (Hong Kong). Region 3, NTSC. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). Korean DD 5.1, Korean DTS 5.1 English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese Subtitles. 113 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Seong-ho Kim
Starring: Yu Ji-Tae, Kim Hye-Na, Kim Myeong-Min, Gi Ju-Bong, Kim Myeong-Su, Lee Yeong-Jin
Screenplay: Seong-ho Kim
Music: Il Won
Country: South Korea
AKA: Geoul Sokeuro
Into the Mirror stars Ji-Tae Yu of the hilarious Attack the Gas Station!, the surprisingly solid Nightmare, and the absolutely god-awful Natural City. For a while anything I saw out of Korea was good, and also seemed to star Yu. Ever since literally having to walk out of Natural City, my luck with Korean cinema hasn't been so hot. I've even had to rely on recommendations before checking something out after sitting through too many Korean stinkers. While Into the Mirror isn't down with Natural City, there are many other Korean movies more deserving of your time… lots of which star Yu.

In Into the Mirror, Yu plays a cop who gets fired after a hostage incident goes poorly. He begins working as a security guard for a department store (that looks more like a shopping centre to me, but the subs translate it to department store, so that's what I'm saying). The building is closed due to a mysterious fire, but before opening, a girl seemingly commits suicide. Anyone that's seen an Asian ghost movie will know better, but this isn't your usual ghost, as she tends to appear in reflections. No one seems aware of the haunting that's occurring at first, but then another person is killed. After the second death, investigations are stepped up and panic ensues. Yu sees the curious deaths as an opportunity to redeem himself, and sets about trying to solve the mystery of the haunted shopping centre…I mean department store.

Into the Mirror is not a bad movie, but it's overlong and too slow, with few surprises for fans of Asian cinema. The film is highly stylish, with reflections used well, which is probably a good thing given the film's title. The reflection elements used for the ghost's presence are unfortunately the only things that seemed fresh in this film, though, and the style doesn't salvage the slow pacing. The mirror world featured at the end should be kind of cool and does play with viewers' perception of reality, but ultimately it just made me think of A-Ha's "Take On Me" video clip. Perhaps the worst thing is that the climax is silly, predictable, and hard to believe (and that's not even the ghost bit). The story was moving way too slowly to have so little payoff, and the film didn't leave much of a lasting impression on me.

Into the Mirror is ultimately one of those bland films with not a lot to recommend it for. It's well made, competent, and looks good, but very little of substance is to be had.
Video
The image is sharp, but the colours can seep, particularly on flesh tones, making people look jaundiced. This may have been intentional, though. The film has some specks, but is mostly clean. There's also some grain, but the really disappointing thing is this is a dark print and clarity is lost in the blacks.
Audio
Audio is available in DTS or 5.1 Korean with English or traditional or simplified Chinese subs. The subs are quite good, with only a few errors. The surround sound is mostly only used by the score, but there are a few directional things done for jump scares. Everything is mixed fine, so no complaints here.
Extra Features
None.
The Verdict
Into the Mirror is just not engaging enough to carry the rather routine story for such a length. At nearly two hours, I found it hard to resist the temptation of the fast forward button. Maybe at 90 minutes, it would've been fine, but was bored. At least Alexandre Aja liked it, as it's slated to be remade by him in 2007. Hopefully he'll fix the ending, because he has always done so well with finales in the past.
Movie Score
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