The movie starts with a terrified man running across a subway platform. He ends up in a locker room, and all of the locker doors swing open. Each door has a mirror on the inside, and each stops once the mirrors are aimed at him. To his horror, the room's larger wall mirror begins to crack as he approaches it. He desperately apologizes to his reflection therein for running away, asking for forgiveness, he begins fervently cleaning it, and a piece of the fractured mirror falls off. He notices his reflection begin acting of its own accord as it picks up the shard of broken mirror and then slowly slashing its own throat. The man experiences the effects of this, his throat slices open, blood erupting from the wound, despite him not doing it himself. He collapses and dies.
Sometime later, Ben Carson (Kiefer Sutherland), an undercover police detective on suspension after shooting another officer, his partner, arrives for his first day on the job as a night security guard at a department store that had been gutted by fire and shuttered for close to a decade. As he is given a tour of the building, he is told about its history. The department store used to be a psychiatric hospital that experimented in treating schizophrenia. In 1952, a mass killing took place and the hospital was closed. It was later reopened as a luxury department store, the Mayflower. Carson comments on the pristine mirrors throughout the otherwise deteriorated place, and the guard comments that his predecessor had been obsessed with cleaning them.
Carson's patrol begins normally, though on his first night he sees an open door in a mirror's reflection while it is actually closed. Over time, Carson begins to see more intense visions, which he initially shrugs off as hallucinations (due to a strong drug he started taking as a result of his alcohol dependency). He notices mysterious handprints on a large, central mirror. Curious, he touches them, causing the mirror to break and injure his hand. Carson further hallucinates being set on fire, as well as seeing people in various parts of the building who appear burned to death. Eventually, he finds the wallet of Gary Lewis the night watchman he is replacing (the same man who died at the beginning of the film). Inside is a note that says "Esseker." Ben then receives a package from Gary Lewis that was sent several days before his death. The package contains newspaper clippings about the fire and other crimes. The man convicted of burning the Mayflower was also convicted of killing his wife and children.
Carson tells his younger sister, Angela (Amy Smart) (whose apartment he is staying at), about what he's seen, commenting that he feels like the mirrors aren't reflecting his image, but rather someone is looking at him. His sister tries to reassure him. Later, he decides to see the body of Gary Lewis at the morgue (where his estranged wife, Amy (Paula Patton) works as a Coroner), and she reluctantly agrees to let him see Gary Lewis's body and the crime scene photos. In one of the photos, the reflection in the mirror shows the glass shard in his hand covered in blood, but the one in reality is not. This convinces Ben that the mirrors are actually making people do things to themselves that they aren't actually doing.
Meanwhile, Angela is at home preparing for a bath. Facing the bathroom mirror, she ties back her hair, then walks over and climbs into the bathtub, not noticing that her reflection has never left the mirror. It grips its jaw with both hands and begins to slowly pull it apart. Angela screams in pain and shock as the effects of her reflection's actions manifest on her face: her cheeks tear open, her jaw breaks and detaches from her head, killing her.
Ben returns from his shift to find the police have set up a crime scene. He rushes past them and is deeply distraught when he finds Angela's body. After being detained briefly by the police, he is released, and returns to the Mayflower. He attempts to destroy the mirrors, but they are impervious to damage, even able to regenerate from several bullets he fires at them. He demands to know what the mirrors want, and cracks appear on one of the mirrors, spelling out the word "ESSEKER". Ben investigates and finds the name Anna Esseker, a patient of the psychiatric hospital that the Mayflower used to be. She supposedly died in the mass killing, but Ben discovers that she was actually transferred out two days prior to the event.
Realizing that the mirrors will eventually kill his family if he does not bring Anna Esseker to them, he goes to his wife's home and attempts to remove or paint the surface of every mirror in the house, but she is convinced he is having a breakdown, and demands that he leave. Ben leaves in frustration and embarrassment. However, Amy soon changes her mind when she discovers her son Michael talking to his reflection in a mirror. She calls him away from it, and he comes, but his reflection remains, smiling at her. Amy calls Ben in a panic, who immediately returns home, and together they cover every reflective surface in the house.
Shortly after, Ben discovers Anna Esseker's childhood home, and meets with her brother, who tells him that when Anna lived there as a young girl, she was very violent and uncontrollable. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia but her family believed she was possessed by demons. Several doctors and priests tried and failed to help her, until finally one doctor (Dr. Kane) from the psychiatric hospital came. His treatment was to confine Anna to a chair in a room surrounded by mirrors, believing this would cure her schizophrenia by forcing her to confront her own reflection as he did not believe in demonic possession. This seemed to work, and Esseker was sent home. Soon after weird things started to happen with the mirrors so her family sent her to a convent, where mirrors are not permitted. Ben visits the convent, and finds Anna, who explains that she was actually possessed by a demon, which was drawn from her and became trapped in the mirrors. Ben begs Anna to come back to the Mayflower so that the demon will leave his family alone. Anna refuses initially, but eventually agrees to accompany him (at gunpoint).
Meanwhile, Ben's family is under attack. Michael has been deceived into thinking the demon in the mirrors is his friend, and has scraped the paint from the mirrors and turned all the water faucets on, covering the floors with a thin, reflective layer of water. Amy is almost drowned by Michael's reflection in the bathtub, but she saves herself by pulling the drain plug. Amy's reflection almost slashes her daughter's throat but the real Amy manages to save her. She then finds Michael staring in the water-covered floor. She tries to get him, but he is pulled through the surface of the water by his own reflection and is trapped on the other side, underwater.
Anna and Ben have returned to the mirror room in the bowels of the Mayflower, and Anna tells Ben to strap her in, then leave immediately. The demons in the mirrors are released, and as they repossess her, all the mirrors in the Mayflower explode. Ben returns to the mirror room and is attacked by the Anna-demon. He manages to impale it on a broken steam pipe that ignites a nearby gas line, setting off a huge explosion. The old building collapses, killing the demon, and seeming to trap Ben. This seems to break the power the demon had over reflections, as back at the family's home, Michael is released from the other side of the water's reflection and Amy is able to pull him to safety.
Ben pulls himself out of the rubble and stumbles his way out of the building. Police and firemen are everywhere in the street, and a body is seen taken in a bag by paramedics, but nobody notices Ben. He looks at the older security guard's nametag, and sees it is written in reverse (like a mirror), as is the word "Police" on a police car; even the wound he suffered earlier is on Ben's opposite hand. Upon walking through New York with cars nearly running him over and people not noticing him as well, he comes upon the mirrored surface of a department store front and fails to see his own reflection as he reaches out to touch it. He realizes that he was crushed to death under the rubble and is now trapped in the mirror world, yet in our world we see a handprint appear on the glass surface.
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