Mirrors (2008) Explained

An Average Movie-Goer’s Review

Spoilers! If you don’t want spoilers – check out the Spoiler-Free post

Mirrors (2008) Explained poster

I love horror movies and if I’m going to watch them anyway, why not write an entertaining/funny review from the POV of an average movie-goer and not a professional critic.

Today we’re looking at the 2008’s Mirrors

A suspended detective (Kiefer Sutherland) takes a job as a night watchman for an abandoned store but an evil presence inside the mirrors target him and his family.

Is Mirrors (2008) Scary?

While Mirrors has some effective jump scares and a premise that some will definitely find scary, the gore in Mirrors is what shines. If you don’t like blood or body horror, there are a few scenes here that will have you covering your eyes the entire time. There aren’t a lot of them and missing them won’t ruin the movie for you so don’t skip it just because of that.

Overall you might leave Mirrors a bit scared especially if you have a room full of mirrors and you swear you saw your reflection move differently than you did that one time.

Mirrors (2008) Full Plot Summary:

The film opens with a security guard running from someone or something in an empty subway station. Finding a locked break room, the guard breaks in and attempts to climb out of a window but discovers it’s barricaded. 

A large mirror at the end of the room cracks causing the guard to plead with it. He claims he wasn’t trying to escape which is a bald-faced lie after he just tried to escape in front of it. A shard breaks off of the mirror and as the guard picks it up, we see his reflection distort as watches him.

The guard’s reflection uses the shard to slice open his own throat and though the actual guard isn’t doing it, his throat is sliced open as if he did it to himself. Turns out this film will not be shying away from the gore because I now know what the entire inside of that dude’s neck looks like.

Title card! And opening credits that look like they were pulled from the mirror dimension in Doctor Strange. We open on our main character Ben (played by Kiefer Sutherland) who is going through a rough time in his life and is currently separated from his wife Amy. 

From a newspaper in one of Ben’s boxes, we learn he was an undercover detective in the NYPD who was placed on leave after accidentally killing a cop. I wouldn’t be carrying around that newspaper article but, how else are we, the audience, going to know what his deal is?

Currently, Ben is staying at his sister, Angela’s (played by Amy Smart), home. How do we know Angela is his sister? Because before Ben leaves the apartment, he “naturally” starts a conversation with her by saying, “Hey sis”. You know how everyone greets their relatives by calling them by their titles? Also, the shaky camera in this scene is extremely noticeable and distracting.

Kiefer Sutherland as Ben Carson in 2008's Mirrors
“Hey sis, is there an earthquake going on sister?” 

Amy Smart as Angela Carson in 2008's Mirrors
“No brother, but have you seen this picture on my nightstand of you, my brother, kissing me, the sister, on the cheek?”

A short time later Ben arrives at the old Mayflower, a large department store that was closed after a fire destroyed much of the building five years earlier. There, he meets with Lorenzo (played by John Shrapnel), his new boss as Ben is taking a job as a nighttime security guard.

Lorenzo gives us a brief history of the Mayflower while he gives Ben the tour. We learn the building used to be the St. Matthew’s Hospital but after it closed in 1952, a wealthy family purchased the building and converted it into the Mayflower. For his new job, all Ben has to do is patrol the building every couple of hours and when he’s not doing that, he gets to hang out in a small trailer out front. 

Despite the building appearing to be about 3 or 4 floors, the tour ends on the second floor when the two reach a large mirror. Since the tour was so short, I can only assume Lorenzo doesn’t give a shit. It’s also implied the guard at the start of the film was the previous nighttime guard for the Mayflower named Gary Lewis.

That afternoon Amy (played by Paula Patton) arrives home and learns from the babysitter Rosa (played by Aida Doina) that Ben is upstairs with the children. Based on the look Amy gives, that’s not a good thing. 

Upstairs while Ben is playing with their son Michael (played by Cameron Boyce) and listening to their daughter Daisy (played by Arika Gluck) spread some school gossip, Amy arrives and asks to speak with Ben privately. 

We learn the two are separated because Ben developed a drinking problem after he killed the cop and although he hasn’t had a drink in three months, he still has an anger problem. The two argue about their relationship and we see Michael in the bath able to hear their entire argument as clear as day. It’s not even muffled a little bit so Ben and Amy should invest in some soundproofing because their inevitable make-up sex is going to traumatize those kids.

That night Ben is on patrol in the Mayflower and spots a handprint on the large mirror. Despite rubbing it with his sleeve, the handprint stays on the mirror and Ben realizes the rest of the mirror is covered in handprints that definitely weren’t there earlier. 

In the mirror, he sees the reflection of a door behind him open and slam on its own, but when turning around to look at the actual door, it hasn’t moved. Although this amount of fuckery would cause most people to quit, Jack Bauer I mean Ben, isn’t the type to just call it quits. 

Instead, Ben opens the door to find some stairs leading to a flooded basement. The music gets real dramatic as Ben turns on the lights. The camera zooms out of the basement and we see the door slam shut. What could this mean?! Apparently, nothing because we cut to the next morning with Ben at his sister’s like some weird shit didn’t totally happen the night before.

In the bathroom Ben takes some pills for his guilt, I guess? We don’t learn what they’re for until later but Angela shows up in a jump scare and recommends he stop taking them. She suggests he just talk to her if he’s going through a rough time with the new job because she’s his little sister. She legitimately says this just in case you had forgotten she was his sister.

Angela checks in on Ben and reminds him they are related in 2008's Mirrors
Alright Vin Diesel we get it, y’all are family.

Ben rejects her help and when turning to the mirror sees his reflection distort which jump scares him so much, he falls back onto the floor. Angela (Ben’s sister) rushes in to help, but Ben goes all Jack Bauer and yells at her to “leave now!”

That night during patrol, Ben sees another handprint on a mirror and decides to put his hand on it to– I don’t know, compare hand sizes? The mirror cracks creating a huge gash on his left hand but Ben can’t focus on that because he sees a reflection of a woman on fire behind him. 

After turning around and seeing no one, he turns back to the mirror where there are now several people on fire. At some point, you gotta stop looking at the mirror. In the reflection, Ben sees a trail of fire approach him, jump on his leg, and ignite him on fire. 

Ben does the ol’ stop, drop, and roll as he screams out in pain and is engulfed in fire but, as the camera pans to the actual Ben, we see that he actually isn’t on fire.

Suddenly realizing he’s not actually on fire, Ben gets up while probably hoping no one saw that, and finds Gary Lewis’s wallet under a nearby chair. Ben rushes back to the trailer, wraps up the cut on his hand, and finds a note in Gary’s wallet with the word “Esseker” written on it.

After all that bullshit, you can’t blame Ben for quitting but you can blame him for going back into the Mayflower to investigate. So everything that happens from here on out is Ben’s fault because he goes back inside for no reason. 

Back inside the Mayflower, Ben hears a woman screaming and assumes it’s not a dead person despite being in a very haunted location. He runs upstairs to a changing room where the screams are emanating from but, finds it empty.

Ben realizes that mirrors are acting like a window into another reality or dimension where ghosts can be seen and at 30 minutes in, it’s rare for a main character in a horror movie to put the central premise together. Ben moves a mirror to one of the changing rooms and sees a half-burned woman screaming out in pain.

Meanwhile, at that exact moment at Amy’s home, Michael calls out for Amy and says he saw a woman screaming in his mirror. Amy tells him it was just a nightmare but doesn’t even bother checking the closet. She then returns to her room and turns off the television.

In a jump scare, the same woman Ben saw appears in her television’s reflection although she doesn’t see it. We then cut quickly to Michael and it’s implied he can still see the woman in his mirror. 

Ben and Michael see the same dead woman half-burned in 2008's Mirrors
Ugh… be right back, throwing out my television

The next day Ben receives a package from Gary Lewis filled with newspaper clippings of the Mayflower fire. As a reminder, Gary is the guy who taught us what the inside of necks looks like so he’s super dead and unless UPS now ships from the afterlife, something isn’t adding up. 

After learning from Lorenzo that Gary is dead, Ben heads to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to view the body. How is a suspended detective going to be allowed to view a dead guy? Well, conveniently Amy works there and it’s super easy for Ben to convince her to let him see Gary’s body. 

While looking at Gary, there’s a quick jump scare when Gary’s reflection turns to Ben and yells out “Esseker”.

Gary's reflection tells Ben to look for ESSEKER in 2008's Mirrors
Damn it, he already got the note! This wasn’t necessary

This leads to Ben having another outburst yet, Amy still lets him see Gary’s file despite Ben being a complete dick. While looking at the crime scene pictures of Gary’s death, Ben realizes that the glass shard in Gary’s hand has no blood on it but in the nearby mirror, it’s covered in blood.

Ben tells Amy about his theory regarding the mirrors and that he’s been seeing weird shit at work but she blames the pills he’s been taking. 

That night while Ben is at work, Angela (Ben’s sister) gets ready to take a bath and doesn’t notice her reflection not moving along with her. Angela’s reflection then grabs the top set of her own teeth with one hand and the bottom with the other– and at this point, you should already be recoiling from your TV as you constantly say, “NononoNONO”.

Angela’s reflection pulls hard and rips her own freaking jaw off while in reality, we see Ben’s sister Angela’s jaw being ripped off as she flails around in the tub extremely confused at what is going on. It’s a brutal death and if you’re even slightly disturbed by gore, this is not something you’ll enjoy as the movie does not shy away from showing you everything.

The next morning police find Angela (Ben’s sister) dead after the downstairs neighbors complained of water leaking. Ben arrives, pushes past the police, and discovers his dead sister. 

Hard cut to the lead detective, Larry (played by Jason Flemying) telling Amy Ben’s alibi checked out. Amy attempts to console Ben and asks him to come home to see the kids but he rejects the offer, claiming it would put them in danger.

Ben returns to the Mayflower and attempts to destroy the mirror but even after shooting it several times (why does he still have a gun?), the mirror repairs itself. Ben demands the mirror tell him what it wants and it cracks, revealing the word “ESSEKER”.

Back at his sister’s (Angela’s) home, Ben calls Larry and asks him to search for any records including the word “Esseker” but he comes up empty. Looking over the newspaper clippings Ben discovers a man named Terrence Berry was responsible for the Mayflower fire and was arrested for killing his wife and three children. According to interviews with Berry, he claimed the mirrors actually killed his family and the fire was revenge.

Ben does research in 2008's Mirrors
“I know my sister just died Larry but I’m really interested in department store history.”

After asking Larry to search Terrence’s name, Ben learns Terrence is dead but decides to check out the psychiatric ward where he was held. The next morning Ben meets with a psychiatrist who shows him a video of one of Terrence’s sessions. During the session, Terrence claims fire is the only way to destroy the mirror and it killed his family because he could not locate Esseker.

Realizing his family could be in danger, Ben rushes to Amy’s and starts removing all the mirrors from the house as well as painting over them. Because that shit is weird, Rosa calls Amy and lets her know Ben has lost his damn mind.

Amy rushes home and tries to kick Ben out but he demands she let him cover the mirrors first. Amy blames Ben’s erratic behavior for Michael’s nightmare but doesn’t put together that the nightmares include seeing things in the mirror and Ben is trying to cover up all the mirrors… seems like those things might be related? 

Angry that Amy doesn’t believe his illogical claims that mirrors are dangerous, Ben does something illogical and takes her outside to watch him shoot up a mirror. Since this isn’t the main mirror at the Mayflower, it doesn’t heal itself. Feels like he should have known that or at least tested out this theory alone before betting it all on this one experiment.

Ben shoots a mirror in an attempt to prove to Amy he's not losing it in 2008's Mirrors
“Also if we do this in broad daylight on the street, no one will think I’m losing my mind!”

After the mirror doesn’t heal itself, Ben apologizes and drives off. There’s a quick jump scare when he sees Angela (his sister) with her jaw hanging off in his backseat which almost causes him to crash. Ben returns to the Mayflower but, this time, heads to the flooded basement. 

There he finds a portion of the original St. Matthew’s Hospital hidden behind a wall, specifically, it’s the Psychiatric Studies wing. Breaking through the wall, he finds a chair enclosed in a room surrounded by mirrors and it doesn’t feel like the therapy that happens here would be covered by my insurance.

Ben finds the mirror room where Dr. Kane tortured Anna in 2008's Mirrors
The worst room to be in when there’s a homicidal being trying to kill you that travels through mirrors…

After another quick jump scare where one of his reflections shoots at him, Ben calls up Larry and asks him to get him the patient list of St. Matthew’s Hospital. Larry finds and gives Ben records of a patient named Anna Esseker. Turns out Anna is dead and died on October 6th, 1952 at 12 years old in a case that would give Netflix a 6-episode documentary series where nothing is resolved. 

On the night of October 5th, 1952, all the patients in the psych ward of St. Matthew’s hospital left their rooms and met up in the main hall to kill each other. The following morning, during rounds, the nurses found every patient dead including Anna Esseker, and with no explanation as to why, the case went cold. Doctor Kane, the head doctor, killed himself with a piece of a mirror on the first day of the hearings investigating the cause. 

Pouring over the file, Ben discovers a form for Anna’s autopsy dated October 8th but also a form discharging Anna from the hospital two days before all the deaths. For some reason, Kane had faked Anna’s death. As a tip, if you’re going to fake a death, maybe don’t leave a paper trail proving she’s still alive?

Ben finds proof Anna is still alive in 2008's Mirrors
So did the police just not bother investigating this? 

The next day Amy gets the kids ready for school and is terrified when she sees Michael’s reflection moving on its own. After calling Ben to the house, the two work together to cover all reflected surfaces and paint all the mirrors. 

With the information from Anna’s file, Ben travels to Pennsylvania to the Esseker farm where he meets with her elderly brother, Robert (played by Julian Glover). Robert tells Ben before Anna was put in the hospital, they believed she was possessed by a demon but when all attempts to get rid of the demon failed, Dr. Kane admitted her to his hospital. 

Though Robert tells Ben that Anna died on October 6th, Ben confronts him with the proof and he immediately cracks, I assume it’s because he realized he’s talking to Jack fucking Bauer. Robert reveals when Anna returned she was no longer possessed but strange things started happening with mirrors. Fearing the worst, they sent her to the mirrorless Saint Augustine Monastery where she lives now as a nun.

Anna's brother Robert played by Julian Glover tells Ben where to find her in 2008's Mirrors
“Did I say she died? I meant she’s living the good life.”

At the monastery, Ben meets with Anna (played by Mary Beth Pell) who says Dr. Kane would tie her up in the chair surrounded by mirrors for days on end as a form of therapy. Though that kind of therapy doesn’t work, it did work in pulling out the demon within her and trapping it in the mirrors. Although trapped in the mirror reality, the demon can still kill and collect the souls of its victims.

Ben gives her a photo of his family and begs her to return to the Mayflower but she refuses as the demon would repossess her and cross back into the real world. Just to be clear, Ben is asking her to sacrifice herself to save his family and he has no backup plan on this whole demon thing.

Ben calls Amy to let her know he failed but she has worse news as she discovers that Michael is missing. Even worse, someone has scraped off the paint from the mirrors and overflowed the tub and sinks resulting in highly reflective water covering the floor.

As Anna prays in her room for Ben’s family, we hear Ben go full Jack Bauer yelling at the other nuns to tell him where Anna’s room is. Jack Ben then breaks into her room with his gun drawn on Anna and tells her she’s coming with him.

Ben goes all Jack Bauer to save his family in 2008's Mirrors
“I’m federal agent Jack Bauer, and today is the longest day of my life.”

Back at Amy’s, she shuts off all the sinks but sees Micheal’s reflection in the tub. I guess she doesn’t get what’s happening because she immediately thinks Michael is behind her and this momentarily distracts her enough that her head is pulled underwater. 

Meanwhile, Daisy (Amy and Ben’s other child who is still in this movie) hears Amy calling out to her from Michael’s room. Daisy enters the room and sees her in the mirror and legitimately asks what she’s doing in the mirror. Do these kids not know how mirrors work?

Amy’s reflection grabs Daisy and starts to cut her neck with scissors but the real Amy breaks free from the tub water and saves her. Amy takes Daisy into a closet, cleans her wound, and tells her to stay there while she searches for Michael.

Daisy is attacked by mirror Amy in 2008's Mirrors
Next time, just shatter all the mirrors.

Downstairs Amy finds Michael scratching off the paint with a knife as he has been manipulated by the demon to believe that it’s all fun and games. Michael runs off with the knife with Amy chasing after him but he disappears before she gets to the kitchen. 

Continuing her search, she spots his reflection under a table and believes it’s the real Michael. Something that I can’t understand because she’s seeing his reflection and doesn’t see the actual Michael anywhere near it.

Amy finds Michael's reflection under a chair in 2008's Mirrors
Does not understanding mirrors and reflections run in the family?

Using the knife Michael was holding, Micheal’s reflection cuts at Amy’s cheek and runs off. Amy then finds the real Micheal sitting on the second floor playing with water but as she approaches him, his reflection pulls him into the water.

Meanwhile Ben and Anna arrive at the Mayflower and Ben straps the now-willing Anna to the chair in the Psychiatric Studies wing. As the ground starts to shake and the mirrors distort as if something is trying to escape from them, Ben waits just outside the room with his gun drawn which I’m sure will work wonders against a demon.

Anna’s face starts to distort and when she opens her eyes, she’s now clearly possessed. At that moment, every mirror in the room and in the Mayflower explodes releasing the trapped souls of those the demon killed. 

Back at Amy’s house, Michael is released from his reflection’s grasp and saved when Amy performs CPR. In the Mayflower’s basement, Ben checks for Anna’s remains but she’s gone. A very possessed Anna attacks Ben throwing him through a wall. Also, he misses every shot he takes… so that gun came in handy.

Anna grabs Ben and drags him along the floor until he breaks a pipe releasing steam onto her. Jumping back, Anna crawls along the ceiling and lunges at Ben but he manages to push her, impaling her onto the broken pipe. 

Since Ben can only hit stationary objects, he shoots at a gas pipe near Anna and causes an explosion killing her and the demon for good.

As the building starts to collapse Ben heads toward the exit while narrowly avoiding explosions and falling debris. As he reaches the stairs out of the basement, the possessed Anna reappears and attacks him but he is able to throw her where she is crushed by debris, killing her and the demon for good… again.

Ben runs but the slight delay in throwing an elderly possessed woman causes him to get trapped and we cut to black as rubble falls atop him dropping him into the water. The next morning Ben climbs out of the rubble, injured but alive. 

As he walks out of the Mayflower, police, firefighters, and rescue workers surround the building and Ben spots Lorenzo but Lorenzo doesn’t notice him. It dawns on Ben that no one is noticing him and when he looks down at his hand, he realizes the gash he received earlier in the film is now on his right hand. Looking around it’s revealed Ben has died and is trapped in the mirror reality.

Ben is trapped in the mirror reality at the end of 2008's Mirrors

Ben wanders around his new mirror reality and comes to a large mirror where he has no reflection. The film ends as he places his hand on the mirror and his handprint appears in the real world.

Mirrors (2008) Ending Explained

The film doesn’t clearly explain how Ben ends up in the mirror reality and there really isn’t a logical explanation within the movie’s own established rules. The demon is able to trap its victims in the mirror world but by the time Ben is crushed by the rubble, the demon is no longer inhabiting the mirror reality. 

The only thing that could possibly make sense is that Dr. Kane’s experiments with the mirrors created an opening between both worlds that trap all who die there in the mirror reality. This could also explain why the demon was able to be trapped in the first place and why the people who died in the fire, which was caused by Terence Berry and not the demon, also ended up being trapped.

I’ve seen some theories that Ben was pulled into the mirror world earlier in the film but remember, he realizes he’s in the mirror reality when he sees the cut on his right hand. This means he could only have been taken to the mirror reality after the cut on his left hand happened. 

After carefully watching the ending again, Ben has the bandage over his left hand until he loses it in the fight with possessed Anna. So he could have only been taken to the mirror reality within the last 15 minutes and that only corresponds to when he’s buried under the rubble.

Mirrors (2008) Spoiler Review:

Mirrors is good. It’s well-acted which isn’t surprising given the cast, has an entertaining story, has some effective jump scares, some gruesome kills, and a twist ending that is actually surprising.

I will add the caveat that the twist ending does feel like one of those twists that was tacked on to give it a downer ending because it’s a horror movie. But, it works because it doesn’t change anything that’s already happened in the movie.

Unlike the twist in (for example) 616 Wilford Lane that actually raises more questions and makes parts of the movie not make sense, the twist here can be cut and nothing really changes, especially if you expected Ben to die in the end.

The way the story plays out was entertaining, with the pieces fitting nicely together and Ben slowly piecing together what is going on. It did feel like the movie was trying to go for “maybe it’s all in the main character’s head” until about halfway through but, if it was going for that, it wasn’t landing effectively.

One negative I had with the film was the dialogue, not all of it but there were some glaring moments that felt like the writer was trying to feed the audience information. There was the whole Angela reminding us that Ben is her brother in every scene where she’s able to talk. In the first scene where Ben and Lorenzo meet, Lorenzo makes sure to mention Ben is a detective and when Ben goes to see Gary’s body, we’re reminded several times that Ben is suspended.

Overall I highly recommend giving Mirrors a watch if you’re looking for an entertaining horror movie that definitely feels like an early 2000s horror movie.


Stuff to Ignore

Rotten Tomatoes – 14%

Metacritic – 35

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