'Oculus' and the Horror of Haunted Mirrors ('Oculus' in Theaters This Friday)


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In Oculus, a young woman believes that an antique mirror is haunted and responsible for all the bad things happening in her life (her parent were murdered and her younger brother was institutionalized). Seems like a fair assessment to me: mirrors can be disorienting, deceptive, and objects in them always appear closer than they are. So it makes sense that they can also be evil.

In honor of Oculus’ release in theaters April 11th, I have identified five other horror properties that feature evil mirrors. This list is by no means exhaustive, and I avoided anything too obvious (aka - anything with “Mirror” in the title).

Friday the 13th: The Series (1988)

This old TV show from the 1980s was about cousins who inherit the antique shop of an uncle they never met, only to discover the antiques all carry a deadly curse. One of the objects was a cursed compact. The compact was so memorable that it was one of only two antiques that earned multiple episodes. In the first, “Vanity’s Mirror,” an unpopular girl uses the mirror to hypnotize boys into falling madly in love with her. Of course, their affections become cloying and she eventually kills them. In the second episode, “Face of Evil,” the curse changes, and an aging model uses the compact to hypnotize rivals. In the mirror, she sees hideous accidents that befall her victims, making their beauty her own.

Army of Darkness (1992)

When you think of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead series, you probably think of Deadites or chainsaws. That’s what I think of. But in Army of Darkness, Ash breaks a mirror. He doesn’t think much of it - until tiny reflections of himself in the shattered pieces climb out of the mirror and torment our beloved hero. (Yes, there is plenty of mirror madness throughout the Evil Dead series, but this one stands out to me for its cartoonishness.)

Candyman (1992)

Based on a short story by Clive Barker, Candyman is a twisted take on a traditional urban legend. Armed with a hook hand and an army of bees, Candyman appears in a mirror when you say his name five times. In this sense, he is not much different than Bloody Mary, but he tends to be far more violent (and had a much better movie).

From Beyond the Grave (1973)

This British anthology also focuses on cursed antiques. The first segment, “The Gatecrasher,” sees a man buy a huge, antique mirror - and promptly hold a seance shortly after hanging it in his home. As one should expect, a face appears in the mirror and demands blood, which leads the mirror’s owner to kill for it. Eventually the mirror-man has enough strength to release himself, and switches places with the mirror’s owner.

The Boogeyman (1980)

A young boy kills his abusive mother’s lover, while his sister watches in the mirror. Twenty years later, the lover’s spirit is trapped in the mirror - and released when the mirror is broken. That mirror gets around, and any place a shard of that haunted mirror is found, you can bet pointy flying objects will follow.