As most of us are isolated in our own homes, in an effort to combat the Coronavirus outbreak, I thought I would compile a top ten list of movies all set in and around one location, as a fun way to distract you from the ongoing situation.
Sometimes watching a movie set in a cramped, isolated location can actually make you feel more appreciative of the space, (no matter how limited), you have. This list is in no discernible order, but I've spent a bit of time whittling it down to my ten favourites and if there's a few you haven't seen then I highly recommend you rectify that error. Even if it does nothing more than divert your attention for a couple of hours. Enjoy.
1. Rear Window
Considered an Alfred Hitchcock classic and one of the greatest films of all time Rear Window stars Jimmy Stewart as a wheelchair-bound photographer, who habitually spies on his neighbors from his apartment window, but becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.
Personally, I think this is Stewart's finest hour, delivering a masterclass performance as a frustrated, paranoid voyeur while Hitchcock toys and torments him from scene to scene. Perfect viewing for the many days of curtain-twitching ahead.
2. The Thing
Widely recognized as director John Carpenter's masterpiece this loose remake of the 1951 film A Thing From Another World initially tanked at the box office and was savaged by critics, one went so far to label the film as 'instant junk'. Obviously it's appraisal has since been recalibrated and it's now recognized as one of the best horror/sci-fi movies ever made.
The Thing is set in the Antarctic and charts the panicked actions of an American scientific research team, who discover their base has been infiltrated by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of its victims and is killing them off one by one. Our special The Thing movie t-shirt can be found HERE.
3. Panic Room
Director David Fincher has produced some of the darkest, most twisted movies of a generation (Seven, Fight Club), and Panic Room is no exception. Released in 2002 it tells the story of a successful single mother, (Jodie Foster), who moves into her new palatial home with her young daughter. During a stormy night, they are both forced to flee to a special panic room in the house when three intruders break into their home.
Panic Room is a largely forgotten David Fincher affair which is odd, considering it spent ten weeks at the number one slot at the box office charts after it's release.
4. 10 Cloverfield Lane
A standalone film from the J.J. Abrams' Cloverfield franchise, directed by Dan Trachtenberg it stars John Goodman, Mary Elisabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jnr. The plot deals with a woman who is saved from a serious car crash by two men who then force her to live with them in an underground bunker because they're convinced there's been a massive chemical attack on the country.
10 Cloverfield Lane ratchets up the tension nicely until it delivers a nerve-shredding, shocking finale. Dare I say this may actually be a better film than Cloverfield itself and it has a perfect, masterful trailer.
5. The Burbs
Joe Dante is one of my favorite directors and I regard The Burbs as good a film as his most famous movie Gremlins, (Gremlins movie t-shirt HERE and HERE). The Burbs stars Tom Hanks who has taken a week-long sabbatical from work to enjoy the peace and quiet of his home. But when a group of mysterious strangers move into the house next door, he becomes convinced they may be murdering people and disposing of their bodies in their large basement furnace.
The Burbs is a darkly sweet film that handles heavy themes like paranoia and voyeurism in a way only Dante could deliver, never once venturing outside of the small street Hanks's character lives on. The Burbs is one of the best films of the 80s and I will fight anyone who says differently.
6. 12 Angry Men
The original pot boiler movie. One room filled with twelve angry, frustrated, sweaty men struggling to collectively agree on a verdict during a murder case. The cast is fleshed out by an embarrassment of talent with Henry Fonda and the excellent Lee J. Cobb, (On The Waterfront movie t-shirt HERE) leading the charge.
Directed by the late, great Sidney Lumet, whose other films include Network, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, this movie slowly dials up the claustrophobia and friction until the explosive conclusion.
Room is a movie that tackles the heavy theme of unlawful imprisonment and psychological torture, even now it still feels particularly relevant following recent similar cases across the globe.
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson it stars Brie Larson as a woman who, after being held captive for seven years in an enclosed space, finally gains her freedom and allows her son to experience the outside world for the first time. Room is at times a hard watch but it's filled with hope and poignancy and Larson's performance is thoroughly deserving of that Oscar win.
8. Free Fire
Following Kill List and Sightseers director Ben Wheatley made a fantastic, single location shoot-em-up romp called Free Fire. Starring Armie Hammer, Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley and Cillian Murphy it tells the story of a business meeting in a deserted warehouse in Boston in the 70s. Two rival gangs agree to meet to trade guns, but things go south quickly, trapping them all in a perpetual shoot-out.
This jet-black comedy plays on every movie shoot-out trope and never regards itself too seriously. Played largely for laughs the film never leaves the single location giving the feel of a perpetual, inescapable nightmare for its characters.
9. The Invitation
Oh boy, this movie is a hidden gem. Released in 2015 and directed by Karyn Kusama it stars Tom Hardy doppelganger Logan Marshall-Green as a man invited to attend a dinner party at his ex-wife's house in the Hollywood hills. He quickly realizes that there was an altogether different motive for his invitation.
It blows my mind that this film doesn't get the recognition it deserves. It perfectly dials up the tension, slowly answering questions as the plot drives towards that shocking, gut-punch final scene.
10. Green Room
Green Room is a tight, nerve-shredding, horror movie starring the late, great Anton Yelchin and Patrick Stewart. Directed by Jeremy Saulnier, whose previous credit Blue Ruin ranks as one of my all-time favourite movies, Green Room charts the terrifying ordeal of a punk band trapped in a remote location after playing a gig for a crowd of neo-Nazis.
Again, Green Room is a film where the majority of the plot plays out in a single location but it's the heady combination of Yelchin's performance of a man forced to make life and death decisions, contrasted with the steely menace of Stweart's psychotic Nazi leader that makes this movie a must-see.
There you have it, my list of ten movies which are full of paranoid, isolated characters struggling to escape from claustrophobic locations and scenarios, a perfect watch-list to make you feel a little more appreciative of your own limited surroundings during this coronavirus lockdown. Enjoy and stay safe.