The best horror movie evil mirror scenes, ranked

There are certain tropes and symbols that recur throughout horror fiction — undead creatures, restless spirits, uncontrollable transformations. They appeal to the part of our brain that loves ambiguity and requires explanations. So it’s not surprising that mirrors, those image-flipping sheets of silvered glass, land on that list. Even on a good day, there’s something unsettling about your reflection, and fright flicks throughout the years have pulled out mirrors for all manner of scares.

To be exact, I watched all the movies I could find that had an evil mirror or supernatural mirror. I then ranked each movie according to how those mirrors performed. Mirrors used as portals into bad places and mirrors that make monsters are all included. These rankings don’t reflect the movies themselves, only the mirror scenes, so let’s get reflecting.

38. Paranormal Activity 3

The Paranormal Activity series taps into nearly every overused horror trope, so it’s not surprising that malevolent mirrors have taken a turn in the found footage barrel. In the third installment, two people videotape themselves playing “Bloody Mary” in the bathroom, but (after a fake-out) a malevolent spirit is released that scratches the older one and causes a ruckus outside. We don’t see anything in the mirror itself, because we never see anything in any of these movies, so this one barely counts.

37. Urban Legends: Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary is a tall tale about mirrors. She will murder you if she hears your name three times, if you just chant it three times. Direct-to-DVD movie depicts Mary, a high school student who was murdered in 1969. She is summoned in 2004 by an outcast group and then goes on a rampage of murder. There’s not a whole lot of mirror action here.

36 These are

This 2002 attempt to create portals appears in many places, but one is in a bathroom mirror. Four people afflicted by night terrors discover that they’re actually being tormented by mysterious creatures from another dimension who breach into our world when they sleep. This mirror scene is not very impressive, but it’s still a good one.

35 Amityville: A New Generation

A mirror taken from the cursed home in the first Amityville Horror After a series of bizarre events that led to it being placed in a Boarding House, the demon it brought with it left its prison and took on new forms.

34 Skeleton Key

This 2005 movie is mediocre and a hoodoo. It’s set on a Louisiana plantation. A hospice aide, aged 19, takes over the care of elderly people. Two former slaves use their magic to transform people into their own bodies. It’s not anything special, but it’s an evil mirror so it counts.

33. Mothman

One of our favorite Mothman stories is about a mysterious, cryptid living in West Virginia. But in this straight-to-DVD stinker, our boy is repurposed as a spirit summoned by a Native American chief named “Cornstalk” that can only enter our reality through reflective surfaces. This is open to interpretation.

32. It is Chapter 2

The malevolent spirit that manifests as Pennywise loves himself a carnival, so there’s naturally a hall of mirrors scene. Bill rushes in to the funhouse in an attempt to prevent the clown from eating another child. He is then trapped within a maze full of hallucinatory reflections, which confuses him enough to delay It long enough to get another dinner. Is it supernatural, evil, or simply annoying mirrors? Hard to tell, but we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

31. The Changeling

There’s only a brief mirror bit in this 1980 Canadian psychological horror entry, but it’s done well. A composer who is grieving the loss of his daughter and wife moves into a Seattle home. He’s attacked by supernatural forces, which leads him to unravel a story that goes back nearly 100 years. One of the incidents involves a mirror shattering into his face, and it’s a short, sharp scare that works great.

31 Night of the Demons

In general, partying in an abandoned mortuary isn’t recommended. When a group of teens breaks into Hull House and holds a seance, a demon appears in a mirror and then breaks out of the crematorium that’s been holding it. It’s a very brief scene, all things considered, but getting the first peek at the creature is something special.

29. The Boogeyman

Typically the childhood scourge of bedtime comes out from the closet or under the bed, but in this 1980 horror cheapie the Boogeyman is actually the ghost of a woman’s dead boyfriend trapped in the mirror he was stabbed to death in front of … by her son. Oedipus, how much? However, the spirit returns 20 years later to exact revenge in ever more bizarre ways whenever even a tiny piece of broken mirror is discovered.

28. From Beyond The Grave

British studio Amicus Productions knocked out horror anthologies at a steady clip throughout the ’60s and ’70s, with this one being its final effort. This is the final one. Beyond the GraveA quartet of antique shop customers find their purchase cursed. David Warner stars as the man who buys an antique mirror. The spirit inside begins to kill people and then it becomes strong enough to release its prison.

27. Keep an eye on Tom

There are no paranormal elements to the mirror in this 1960 thriller, but it’s certainly evil enough to snag a place here. Carl Boehm is a photographer who kills women using a circular mirror that he mounts on top of his camera. This allows them to see themselves as they go. He drives his knife in himself at the end, and captures his death as the final act of his film project.

26. Grim Prairie Tales

Two travelers swap ghost stories around a campfire in this Western horror oddity made on a shoestring budget in the Mojave Desert, shot by Janusz Kamiński, who would go on to shoot Schindler’s List. Scott Paulin plays the role of a gunman who shoots down a rival and is haunted thereafter by the ghost. In one notable scene, he’s shaving with a straight razor when he spots the apparition in the mirror as it grips his arm and tries to force him to slash his own throat.

25. The Watcher in The Woods

When an American family moves into a rural English manor, one of the daughters starts seeing the apparition of a blindfolded girl in the house’s mirrors. The truth is that she had been paired with an alien creature in some sort of ritual. She can now only communicate via reflective surfaces.

24. Conan the Destroyer

This doesn’t have the bombast of the John Milius original, but it’s more colorful and weird. Conan has to fight a giant monster in a hall filled with mirrors. Conan defeats him by shattering all the glass. It’s then revealed that the beast was the wizard Thoth-Amon in disguise, played by pro wrestler Pat Roach.

23. Hellraiser: Bloodline

The fourth installment in the long-running franchise saw director Kevin Yagher pull his name off the finished film to have “Alan Smithee” take the credit, so you know it has to be good. Wait, no, it’s not. However, it is filled with mirrors and includes one scene in which Angelique decapitates a man by pulling him through a glass.

22. A Nightmare On Elm Street

The 2010 reboot of Wes Craven’s franchise is perfectly fine, but not all that necessary. It does have one great mirror scare at the end, though, as Jackie Earl Haley’s Freddy stabs through the reflective surface to kill Nancy’s mother and pull her into the dream world. It’s a better version of a similar effect from the original, which used an unconvincing blow-up doll pulled through a window.

21. The Conjuring

James Wan’s 2013 franchise-starter throws a lot of stuff at the walls, much in the mode of its inspiration Poltergeist. The paranormal forces of Bathsheba Sherman use a music box with an inlaid mirror on the lid. This also houses Annabelle, the evil doll.

20. Dark Mirror

A family of three moves into a Los Angeles home with large windows and mirrors in this 2007 chiller. A photographer mother soon finds out that anyone she snaps of ends up dying. The culprit is the spirit of one of the home’s prior owners, a painter who was betrayed by her husband and possessed by a supernatural force that made her images real.

19. Nightmare On Elm Street III: Dream Warriors

Freddy Krueger, a razor-gloved killer aficionado is also a lover of optical illusions. This is the dramatic scene that ends it all. Dream Warriors, Freddy creates a hall of mirrors in Joey’s dream to suck in the team of teens who have hypnotized themselves to confront him. Obviously things don’t work out for them, but Joey finds his voice and screams so loud the mirrors shatter and release our heroes.

18. Prince of Darkness

A group of quantum physicists becomes trapped in Los Angeles’ monastery after investigating the mysterious green liquid that could be Satan. This triggers a panic of murder, possession and other supernatural shenanigans. The devil’s plan is to summon an even worse dude, the “Anti-God,” into our plane through a mirror, and a few reflective surfaces are shattered in the attempt.

17. Snow White: A Tale Of Terror

The magic mirror in Disney’s Snow WhiteThis 1997 horror film goes even further than the original. In the reimagining of the famous fairy tale, the mirror itself is the cause of the stepmother’s homicidal impulses. Sigourney Weaver plays Claudia Hoffman, driven by jealousy of her stepdaughter Lilli to use the mirror’s dark gifts to torment and murder. In the movie’s climactic scene, Lilli stabs the mirror itself with a shard of glass, making it explode.

16. Oculus

Mike Flanagan’s Oculus revolves around a cursed mirror named the Lasser Glass, which has the ability to induce hallucinations when it’s gazed into. The mirror causes the death of Alan and Marie Russell’s parents when the Russell family first encounters it. 11 years later, the surviving children must contend with the mirror’s eldritch effects as they try to prove that it killed their parents.

15. Mirror Mirror

When teenage goth Megan Gordon moves to Iowa from Los Angeles in this 1990 flick, there’s not much she likes about her new house except for a huge, ornate mirror. It’s bad news! There’s a demon in it, which starts messing with her bullies and, eventually, killing people. Megan accepts it. However, her mother is caught in the trash disposal. Megan becomes angry and finally gives her life to stop this demon.

14. Mirrors

The 2008 horror film gets straight to the point in its title. One night security guard in a burnt-out department store experiences nightmares from visions inside the few mirrors that remain. But the demon within them was manifested during the time the building had been a psychiatric hospital. It’s a pretty huge mess but there are a lot of clever scares and reflective effects to enjoy, so it ranks decently.

13. House

The 1986 classic has been a cult favorite for its inventive and powerful effects. When horror author Roger Cobb moves into his dead aunt’s house, he finds himself tormented by Vietnam flashbacks as well as spiritual shenanigans. Roger removes the bathroom mirror medicine cabinet from his home to expose an infinite void of evil nasties.

12. Mirrors 2

This sequel, which is direct-to DVD, actually surpasses the original film. It takes us back to the haunted department store, but this time the malevolent spirit is a young female employee who was drugged and murdered at the store’s grand opening party, and buried in the basement. The ghost of the victim is now looking for revenge.

11. A London American Werewolf

The movie is filled with great scenes. But the one where David Kessler, the protagonist, is in the restroom and becomes terrified when Jack’s dead friend appears to him through the mirror is the best. Like the rest of the film, it’s simultaneously hilarious and horrifying, as Jack’s state of decay is conveyed with tremendous Rick Baker makeup.

10. Broken

Cracking a mirror is an omen of bad luck, especially in 2008’s Broken. The movie shows doppelgangers who are identical to normal people, but have their positions reversed and enter the world via shattering reflections. The originals are then murdered for unknown reasons. This one has a great paranoia vibe and a lot more breaking glass.

9. Night of the Dead

This 1945 horror film is one of the oldest on this list. It features a segment that revolves around a cursed mirror, which belonged to an alcoholic husband. After suspecting his wife of cheating, he killed his wife and then cut his throat before the mirror. After the murder, the man who had been living with the glass for years became obsessed by it and attempted to repeat the same crime again.

8. Poltergeist

Tobe Hooper’s 1982 horror classic is relentlessly innovative in the ways it torments the Freeling family and the people in their orbit. One of the most memorable scenes involves Dr. Marty Casey, an investigator called in to help figure out what’s wrong with the house. He is alone at night and stops by the kitchen to grab a bite. Then he sees maggots growing from his meat. Then, he runs to the utility area to wash his face. He is shocked to discover that his flesh has been ripped from his face. It’s a sharp, effective bit.

7. Phantasm

This cult classic is best-known for the reflective metal murder balls used by the film’s antagonist the Tall Man, but it has a great evil mirror scene as well. In the movie’s coda, as our surviving hero Mike is getting ready to pack up and leave town, the presumably deceased Tall Man appears in Mike’s bedroom mirror, thrusting his hands through the glass and pulling Mike inside. It’s a great bit that perfectly fits in with the dreamlike logic of the movie.

6. Candyman

Based on a Clive Barker short story, the Candyman is a malevolent spirit that haunts Chicago’s Cabrini-Green housing projects, summoned by having his name chanted five times into a mirror. The movie’s prime mirror scare comes right at the end, as Virginia Madsen’s character has her own name used to summon her for revenge.

5. Legacy

Richard Marquand’s 1978 directorial debut is a fascinating little Gothic horror tale about a Los Angeles couple summoned to a British mansion where the decaying lord of the manor has assembled his heirs. Things aren’t quite what they seem, of course, and a spectral force starts murdering them in entertaining ways. The movie’s mirror scene is a really good one, with the reflecting glass exploding into a deadly spray of shards that impales a woman, then reassembles itself.

4. Poltergeist III

Original PoltergeistAlthough it has one good mirror scare the movie, the sequel centers almost entirely on reflections. It’s certainly not as good a movie, but the myriad uses of mirrors and surfaces to show the spirit world and the machinations of the evil Henry Kane are excellent, letting it rank higher on this list. Cal Acord’s great practical effects still make a strong impression today.

3. In The Mirror

Inspiration for this horror film from Korea was taken in 2003. MirrorsHowever, a lot of things have changed. A police officer traumatized from his partner’s death takes a job working security for an abandoned, fire-damaged shopping mall. This film, unlike the American version, is less violent and has more gore. Some of the coolest trick mirror shots you’ll ever see are found in this one, so hunt it down.

2. Shining

Mirror imagery appears throughout Stanley Kubrick’s all-time horror classic. Mirrors are everywhere in The Overlook Hotel, including the two dead twins who torture Danny and the mirrors that appear whenever Jack meets the ghosts. But the most iconic scene comes when Wendy looks into her bedroom mirror to see Danny’s lipstick-scrawled “REDRUM” reversed to “MURDER” on the door.

1. Evil Dead II

The many supernatural shenanigans that plague Ash Williams across the Evil Dead franchise are too abundant to list, but one of the most iconic comes when he gazes into a mirror inside the cursed cabin and releases an evil doppelgänger of himself. Sam Raimi has mastered camera cuts and practical effects so the low-tech scene feels authentic and amazing decades later.

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