Kiefer Sutherland stars as an NYPD detective-turned-security guard who discovers something sinister lurking in the mirrors of a fire-damaged department store in Haute Tension writer/director Alexandre Aja's menacing study in the origins of evil. It's been just about a year since mercurial police detective Ben Carson (Sutherland) was suspended from the NYPD for the fatal shooting of an undercover officer, and ever since that fateful day he's been locked in a self-destructive spiral of anger and alcoholism. Increasingly isolated from his wife and kids, Ben spends most nights crashed-out at his sister Angela's (Amy Smart) apartment in Queens. But Ben hasn't given up hope just yet, and in order to get his life back together and prove that he's still capable of supporting his family he takes a job as the night watchman at the Mayflower department store. The Mayflower used to be a lavish symbol of inner-city prosperity, that is, until a raging inferno gutted the building while claiming numerous lives in the process. These days, the Mayflower is a scorched reminder of human misery, the ornate mirrors therein reflecting a suffering so profound that it begins to wear on Ben's already-fragile psyche. Not only that, but whatever force dwells behind the shimmering glass seems to have gained the power to alter reality as well.
After Ben gazes into the mirrors and sees a vision of himself being relentlessly tortured, he is horrified to experience violent convulsions, spontaneous bleeding, and frightening asphyxiation. And while his sister is always willing to lend a sympathetic ear, she chalks the anomalies up to an unusually potent mix of stress and anxiety. Unfortunately for Ben, his estranged wife, Amy (Paula Patton), isn't nearly as forgiving. A prosaic NYPD medical examiner who has seen her fair share of tragedy, Amy fears that Ben's erratic behavior could be placing their children in danger. Later, as Ben begins to draw connections between his increasingly gruesome visions and a former Mayflower security guard who vanished without a trace, he begins to suspect that an unimaginable evil is using the mirrors as a gateway into the real world, and that his family is in mortal danger from forces beyond their realm of understanding. Perhaps if he Ben can manage to convince Amy that their children's lives are at risk, he can summon the courage to face the greatest evil he has ever known. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi