I figured Into The Mirror was going to be just another postmillenial Asian horror film. (How quickly we become jaded!) Turns out it’s a cop movie about the redemption of a man who got his partner killed and now labors as a security guard. His story just happens to take place in the context of a clever slasher movie with Asian horror elements to it.
The lead, Ji-tae Yu, was the antagonist in Oldboy, and while I didn’t like Oldboy that much, I remember thinking he was good. I’m coming perilously close to having enough of a handle on Korean cinema to go out hunting obscure DVDs. Gotta keep a handle on that tendency.
But back to the movie. It was exceedingly slick and well-done. All the Korean movies I’ve seen over the last year or so have had excellent production values. The horror gimmick in Into The Mirror is, of course, mirrors — the department store in which various awful things take place is full of them, and plenty of other reflective surfaces. The cinematography rocked the house; once the mirror theme was established, you couldn’t blink without getting creeped out.
The director made pretty top-notch use of the theme, too, all the way through to the truly disturbing ending. I think it was effective because, as we all know, mirrors are a little creepy, and they do feel like a window into another world. Into The Mirror nails that feeling in the same way as — bear with me, this is an odd comparison — Alice In Wonderland.
The other thing I found interesting is that, insofar as it uses horrific elements, it draws more on slasher movies than on recent Asian horror cinema. Sure, there’s a mystery and a spirit and a unifying theme, but… it doesn’t have the linear elements I associate with the Asian stuff, and it doesn’t have the predetermination aspects. C.f. Ringu and One Missed Call, in both of which you know you’re going to buy the farm.
Of course, the spirits and the tragic motivating intelligence behind it all are still there, so maybe my distinction is without merit. I’ll have to ponder on it.
We also got a new trailer before this one: Dark Water, the new-to-North-America movie from Hideo Nakata, who directed Ringu. It looked pretty good. Hm, and looks like he’s directing Ring 2 over here in America. Interesting.