As a storytelling device, mirrors are a great way to add some depth and dimension to any genre. They act as portals to other worlds, tools to solve crimes, methods for characters to consider their fates, and much more. For this list, we’re looking at any mirror in any genre, as long as a character or characters are actually using it (no background mirrors). This is not a comprehensive list of mirrors in film, just a list of some we think are significant. Here are 22 movie moments when someone used a mirror (with a bonus).
A hook-handed serial killer is summoned by calling his name, “Candyman” five times in a mirror where he will appear and slay the summoner. A scary psychological thriller, this had people sacred to look in their mirrors. Go ahead, we dare you to say his name.
Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a slightly disturbed amateur videographer who rides the streets in search of gruesome crime to film for cash. Angered when he gets beat to a scene and loses the exclusive video, he smashes his mirror in disgust of himself.
Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger), on a mission to find a magic gem, ends up facing the wizard Toth-Amon (Pat Roach) in the form of a ghastly beast who uses a hall of mirrors to try and deceive the barbarian. It doesn’t end well for the beast.
Lee (Bruce Lee) goes undercover to infiltrate a major crime lord by entering a massive martial arts, multi-tiered competition, ending up in a hall of mirrors for the final battle, in this, his last movie appearance.
Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is going slightly mad as she struggles to keep her lead part in a production of Swan Lake, told she is machine like with no passion. During a fitting, standing between mirrors, she is reflected back ever smaller to the horizon and hallucinates a hand scratching at her shoulders and reveals a split that will eventually consume her.
Stanley Kubrick‘s complex analysis of married life stars Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Cruise appears behind Kidman in the mirror, both nude and vulnerable, yet both not revealing at all. Rather, they hide their secrets behind feigned actions reflecting their passionate early relationship.
This special FX filled horror is a B-movie magic done right. The Hollow Man (Kevin Bacon) is completely invisible, and using his powers, enters his neighbor’s apartment, a pretty girl (Rhona Mitra) who thinks she’s by herself, fresh out of the shower. Unable to be seen, he leers and then attacks in a frightening moment that starts with a touch of her mirror.
Poor Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum), a brilliant scientist, has invented a teleportation device that actually works, but has a flaw. While he tested it, he didn’t realize a housefly had flown inside the chamber and now its DNA is combing with his. In a mirror, he starts to witness some horrifying implications of the transformation.
Marion Silver (Jennifer Connelly) and her friends are drug addicts spiraling steadily out of control. In one devastating scene, she stands before a full length mirror and undresses, inspecting herself before the drugs take her away again.
Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), a man who leads a team of people who enter people’s dreams, is testing the abilities of a new “architect,” a dream designer who must make elaborate, detailed spaces that resemble reality. When he presses Ariande (Ellen Page) to push herself, she alters the dream the are in with swiveling mirrors and shifts the paradigm, and convinces Cobb.
When busboy Eddie (Mark Wahlberg) is spotted by veteran porn filmmaker Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) he changes his name to Dirk Diggler and becomes a super star because of his particularly large endowment. Throughout the film we are left to image its size until the end, when Dirk, pumping up his courage to go back in front of the camera, stands up and reveals the (prosthetic) wonder.
This Tobe Hooper 80s horror film has one of the nastiest mirror moments in cinema history. Tricked by a ghost, a paranormal researcher hallucinates himself literally tearing his face off. Even for a horror movie, this was unsettling.
Arnold Schwarzenegger portrays one of the greatest villains ever as a time-traveling robot assassin in James Cameron‘s original Terminator. He tends to his wounds in a mirror in a brutal moment where he removes his eye, revealing his metal robot skeleton underneath.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is back, this time as the good guy in James Cameron‘s follow up to The Terminator. In this theatrically deleted scene that is restored in the DVD director’s cut, and made famous by its practical effects using of Linda Hamilton and her twin sister, the T-800’s chip is removed and reset.
Brandon Lee stars as Eric Draven, a man returned from the grave to get revenge for his slain fiancee. Lost and disoriented, he slowly remembers what happened, but can’t bare his own reflection. He shatters a mirror, thinking of that bloody night. He then applies his mask, the Face of Comedy, to hide his sorrow and pain.
Neo (Keanu Reeves) pops a pill and gets ready for the truth in the stylish Wachowski siblings sci-fi thriller. He looks at his reflection and touches it. The shining surface turns to syrup, connecting a gooey strand on his finger. The mirror spreads, coating his skin, crawling down his throat and transporting him down the rabbit hole.
Robert De Niro‘s anarchist vigilante prepares himself to clean up the streets in this Martin Scorsese thriller. He practices with his modified weapon in the mirror, spewing threats at his own reflection. As he descends further into madness he utters one of the most iconic lines in cinematic history, “You talkin’ to me?”
Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) is an amateur boxer living in Philadelphia who fights for scraps and works as a leg breaker for a two-bit mobster. He’s about to get the chance of a lifetime, but before that, in his rundown apartment, he eyes a photo of himself tucked into the frame of a wall-mounted mirror and silently looks at his past, reflecting on how far his life has fallen out of control.
Little Danny Torance (Danny Lloyd) is staying alone with his parents for the off season at a snow covered lodge in the Colorado Rockies. Things aren’t going well as his father is slowly going mad and Danny’s imaginary friend Tony is keeping secrets. As Danny confronts Tony about what is happening in the hotel, Danny hallucinates more horrors.
Young Elllie Arroway (Jena Malone) is a wiz with short wave radios and becoming fascinated with long distance communication, which will serve her well when she makes a career out of searching for intelligent life in outer space. When her father suddenly falls ill, Ellie races to the upstairs medicine cabinet where his pills are kept in this clever edit by director Robert Zemeckis that spins our perception of where Ellis is in relation to the mirror.
Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) hunts for clues about “Replicants” – humanoid androids who are on Earth illegally, by examining a photograph a little more carefully that what we might expect, able to seemingly enter the image and use the mirror within to catch the reflection of a hiding android. Using high tech picture scanning equipment, he zooms in on a mirror, uncovering a secret clue in this memorable moment.
The wicked Queen (voiced be Lucille La Verne) and stepmother to Snow White (voiced by Adriana Caselotti) looks into her magic mirror on the wall and delivers one of fairytale’s most memorable lines, “Mirror, mirror on the wall…” You can finish that quote. That’s why this moment belongs at the top of this list.
Little Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) is forgotten at home when his entire family flies off to Europe for the Christmas holidays, leaving him to fend off a couple of screwball criminals trying to rob his house. One morning, while trying to be a grownup, he dabs a bit of aftershave on his cheeks and lets out a shout (though this gag really shouldn’t work since aftershave only hurts because of the tiny cuts a razor causes). Still, a classic.
There you have it. What mirrors in film do you like? Thanks for reading.