There are a lot of monsters in horror stories that you can start from when they collect a new threat of their nightmares. Despite the theoretically endless options, there are a few standard distinguishing features that seem to keep coming back, such as a monster that exists only in the reflection of a mirror.
Screamers are considered the lowest form of horror content, mainly because of their template representation. Some shots evoke memories from savvy viewers as they prepare for the approaching loud noise. No shot is as obvious as an innocent victim washing in front of a mirror. When they leave the field of view of the mirror, something else will take the place of their reflection.
The mirror monster is exactly what is written on the jar. This is a monster, ghost or demon that appears in the reflection of a mirror or other glass surface. The mirror may serve as a window to another world, or the creature may be somehow attached to it, or it may just be a temporary frightening jump to scare anyone who is nearby. There is something inherently unpleasant about reflection, so the fact that it works in an unnatural way is immediately confusing. People tend to get nervous looking at themselves in the mirror for a number of reasons, but stories of monsters trapped inside them are extremely common. Sometimes breaking the mirror frees the beast, sometimes it kills it instantly. In different cultures and generations, the horror inside the glass remained terrifying.
At least since the early 1900s, mirrors have occupied a prominent place in urban legends. Schoolchildren from generation to generation played “Bloody Mary”. The origin of the tale is unclear, it mentions numerous historical figures, from Countess Elizabeth Bathory to Mary Worth and the victims of the Salem Witch Trial. Early divination rituals gave young girls hope to see their future husbands in the mirror. However, over the past century and changes, children have gathered in darkened rooms and chanted “Bloody Mary” a certain number of times to summon a ghost. The titular Maria may be good or evil, but she laid the foundation for a long history of comparable beings. The most notable comparison is Candyman, a haunting hook-handed spirit that can be invoked with a very similar ritual. Candyman originated in Clive Barker’s short story “Forbidden” in 1984, but the character remains relevant in his ongoing film franchise.
Most famous writers in the horror world and beyond have used the concept of the creature in the mirror. R. L. Stein used it twice in his favorite series “Goosebumps”. In “Become Invisible!”, the reflection in the magic mirror threatened to switch places with its victim. Stein returned to the “Ghost in the Mirror” concept, which featured a deadly portal made of reflective glass. Stephen King lured the Grim Reaper into a ghostly mirror in his 1969 short story “The Image of the Reaper.” One of Dean Koontz’s novels, Odd Thomas, tells of a kidnapping using a mirror as a portal. In his short story “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hogg”, Robert A. Heinlein introduced the Sons of the Bird who traveled to and from our dimension through mirrors. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series features a mirror witch who is dragged away into glass by a rebellious reflection. In the series “Dresden Files” by Jim Butcher, the main character tries to keep mirrors away from his apartment so that nothing passes through them.
Horror movies are full of mirror monsters. Some films build their entire threat around this concept. Alexander Azh’s 2008 film Mirrors is entirely dedicated to the horror of reflection. It’s based heavily on the 2003 Korean horror film Kim Seong Ho, and both use just about every cinematic trick glass can accommodate. Mike Flanagan’s massive Oculus debut in 2013 focused horror on Lasser Glass, an antique haunted mirror that seems to change perceptions. Classic horror icons like the Cenobite from Hellraiser, Freddy Krueger and the Tall Man from Fantasma used mirrors to scare. In Ridley Scott’s “Legend” and John Carpenter’s “Prince of Darkness”, the devil himself moves through the mirror. There are also countless other fake screeners using mirrors.
The mirror monster has its roots in old myths and its justification in modern science. In any horror movie, there will most likely be a long look in the bathroom mirror and a subsequent loud noise. Many authors have looked into an unassuming piece of glass or a motionless pond and imagined a monster trapped inside, or otherworldly horrors making their way through them. This simple concept has permeated all horror media and even pops up in non-horror media for a quick panic. From cheap carnival ghosts to long-lasting fixtures from myths and legends, the monster in the mirror is a key part of horror.