The Mirror (1999)

Her eyes have fallen out!
Her eyes have fallen out!

This portmanteau horror film uses a dressing table with a cursed mirror as the link between a series of stories, set in 1922 Shanghai, 1988 Singapore and 1999 Hong Kong.

The first tale, about Mary, a wheelchair-bound woman suffering from mirror-induced flashbacks that remind her of how she poisoned her husband, is the best of the bunch.

Mary peers into the mirror and her face appears to be messed-up in the reflection

Mary peers into the mirror and her face appears to be messed-up in the reflection

The story set in Singapore begins in a more humorous manner, with the mirror this time influencing a solicitor (Jack Neo) to commit murder to win his current court case, and it finishes with a briefly-seen ghost (played by the movie’s scriptwriter) and a rather silly twist ending involving plastic surgery.

The ghost of a murder victim appears in the back of the solicitor's car
The ghost of a murder victim appears in the back of the solicitor’s car…
...and at the end of this segment the solicitor undergoes plastic surgery after an accident... and ends up with the murder victim's face!
…and at the end of this segment the solicitor undergoes plastic surgery after an accident… and ends up with the murder victim’s face!

The third yarn concerns a young guy called Ming (Nicholas Tse) bringing Judy (Ruby Lin), his new girlfriend, back to his home, where he lives with his rich grandmother and his cousin, Yu (Lillian Ho). He marries Judy, but unpleasant events start to occur, culminating in the death of the grandmother. It is eventually revealed that Judy framed Yu in order to make sure Ming inherited his grandmother’s fortune.

DVD cover
DVD cover

In addition to these three main stories, there is a brief pre-credits sequence set in a Ming Dynasty brothel and an even shorter teaser ending, based in Taiwan.

The film, directed by Agan (aka Kiefer Liu), lacks any real suspense or scares, the mirror is only tenuously involved in the second and third stories, and the tales, written by Raymond Pak-Ming Wong, are just not very engaging, though the Hong Kong segment at least boasts a dead-puppy-in-granny’s-sink moment and an absurd scene in which the grandmother’s severed head gets accidentally kicked about.

Granny's severed head is left on a shelf
Granny’s severed head is left on a shelf

The Shanghai-set story is at least more successful in intertwining the mirror into the plot, has a well-sustained atmosphere and some decent period details, plus there’s a scene where the dressing table slides across the room menacingly, echoing a similar moment with a ‘living piano’ in the British anthology film TORTURE GARDEN. The mirror’s ability to move is only a figment of Mary’s imagination, unfortunately, and the dressing table remains an inanimate, rather passive presence for the remainder of the movie.

The dressing table moves towards Mary. If only it had creepily slid around the place more often in the movie!
The dressing table moves towards Mary. If only it had creepily slid around the place more often in the movie!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: