Toni Salabasev, Regency Entertainment
Kiefer Sutherland stars as a night watchman trying to uncover the secret behind the mirrors of a department store in "Mirrors."

MIRRORS — ** — Kiefer Sutherland, Amy Smart, Paula Patton; rated R (violence, gore, profanity, brief nudity); Carmike Ritz; Century Sandy and South Salt Lake; Cinemark Jordan Landing; Megaplex District and Gateway; Red Carpet 5-Star and Gateway 8; Redwood Drive-in

Kiefer, dog, what happened to you, man? You used to be cool. We expected you to take over as your generation's movie tough guy.

But "Mirrors"? There's got to be more of an excuse for this than "This is all I could line up for my hiatus from '24"' or "There was a writers' strike coming. I was in a hurry."

"Mirrors" is about demons that try to suck souls from this world into their world, behind the silvered glass. It's a grisly, high-gloss horror picture with barely a scare in it. Kiefer Sutherland is better than this. Or should be.

He plays Ben, a recovering alcoholic, a police detective on long-term leave because of a death he blames himself for. His marriage (Paula Patton plays his coroner-wife) is on the rocks. He's living with his bartender sister (Amy Smart). And he has taken this job as night watchman at a burned-out hulk of a department store where a lot of people died in a fire. It was a mental hospital before it was a department store, and, yes, they give that fact away early on.

Something is in the mirrors. We've already seen, in graphic detail, the previous night watchman slit his own throat with a shard of glass. Ben sees horrific visions, first of himself, then of those who died in the fire.

It's not just in the architecturally absurd store. He sees them in his bathroom, in the rear-view mirror in his car, in puddles, on shiny doorknobs and TV screens. And if he sees them, they can get at him and those close to him.

"They are everywhere," he warns his wife, who won't believe him. About the ghosts, anyway. Yes, mirrors are everywhere, especially in the house they used to share, where their kids live and laugh and play with the new imaginary friends on "the other side."

Alexandre Aja ("The Hills Have Eyes") tosses the odd cheap jolt (pigeons fluttering out of the silence, a dog leaping against a window) in an effort to spice up what turns too quickly into a mundane "What sort of supernatural thing is going on here, what happened here in the past?" tale.

Sutherland gives fair value, exploding in anger, flipping out every time he sees something that he shouldn't reflected back at him. It's not laughably bad. It's just not scary, a generally pointless thriller with motiveless murders at its heart and a most unsatisfactory resolution.

Sutherland might want to reflect on this. He should have moved on from this level of junk movie years ago, even if this was all he could line up for his TV hiatus, even with a writers' strike coming.

"Mirrors" is rated R for strong violence, disturbing images, language and brief nudity. Running time: 107 minutes.