10 Single-Room Movies That Made Claustrophobia Cool - Maxim

10 Single-Room Movies That Made Claustrophobia Cool

From 'Dog Day Afternoon' to 'Reservoir Dogs', the hit thriller 'Green Room' has plenty of predecessors that mostly happen in a single room.
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Imogen Poots in 'Green Room' 

Imogen Poots in 'Green Room' 

Green Room, a riveting thriller about a punk band who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, has emerged as one of the sleeper hits of the year. After accidentally stumbling across a murder scene, the band's members are held hostage in a club's backstage “green room” and terrorized by a group of Neo-Nazis led by Patrick Stewart.

Setting a film in a single four-walled space has other advantages aside from ratcheting up claustrophobic horror and tension: Having fewer locations also helps keep the budget in check, which is certainly helpful for indies like Green Room. 

Here are some of our favorite movies that are low on square footage, but high on drama.

1408 (2007)

John Cusack and Samuel Jackson star in the movie adaptation Stephen King’s hotel horror story about an author obsessed with supernatural phenomenon who gets in way over his head (literally: at one point the room floods with gushing water from a ghostly source.)

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

J.J. Abrams’ sort-of (but not really) sequel to Cloverfield isn’t set in a single room, per say, but most of this tense psychological thriller takes place in a compact bunker. John Goodman stars as a maybe-insane survivalist who “rescues” Mary Elizabeth Winstead's character under the guise of protecting her. But is the real danger inside the house?

Room (2015)

Brie Larson won an Oscar for her performance as a young mother who has been held captive by a rapist in a tiny, sealed-off backyard shed since she was a teenager, and gave birth to her kidnapper’s child. Her days are spent trying to shield her son from the horror of their reality, by pretending that the outside world isn’t real. But she can’t keep up the heartbreaking charade forever.

Dog Day Afternoon (1972)

Sidney Lumet’s classic heist film is based on the true story of a botched Brooklyn bank robbery that took place in the dog days of summer in 1972. Al Pacino and the late, great John Cazale star as a pair of would-be thieves who soon realize they have no idea what they are doing, and one of them loses their nerve pretty quickly. Most of the film takes place inside the bank as Sonny Wortzik (Pacino) desperately tries to take control of a wildly out-of-control situation. 

Rear Window (1954)

In Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 thriller, Jimmy Stewart stars as an injured photographer recuperating in his Greenwich Village apartment one summer when he witnesses what he believes to be a neighbor’s murder of his wife. Restless and unfulfilled, he enlists his girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) and nurse Stella to launch an amateur investigation and try and catch his neighbor red-handed.

12 Angry Men (1957)

Sidney Lumet’s courtroom drama that launched a thousand imitations stars Henry Fonda as a lone, ethically-minded juror who must convince 11 other men -- some who just want to get out there -- out of finding a teenager guilty of murder, which will result in the death sentence. Only three of the film’s 96 minute running time takes place outside of the deliberation room.

Carnage (2011)

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf meets The Slap in Roman Polanski’s film adaptation of Yasmine Reza’s Broadway play God of Carnage, as two well-to-do couples meet at one of their homes to discuss a playground altercation between their sons. Upper-crust mayhem ensues, all inside a well-appointed Brooklyn apartment.

The Breakfast Club (1985)

John Hughes launched The Brat Pack in this study of teenage disaffection, as a team of high school misfits turn their daylong weekend detention service into a no-holds-barred confessional. Don’t you forget about me!

Buried (2010)

Ryan Reynolds stars as Paul Conroy, an American civilian truck driver in Iraq who finds himself in a coffin with a directive to secure $5 million dollars ransom for his release. But the U.S. government doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, so Paul must rely on a treacherous rescue mission. This movie is your worst nightmare.

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Quentin Tarantino’s classic feature debut follows the aftermath of a bloody heist as the diamond thieves assemble in an empty warehouse to try and clean up the mess and figure out who among them is a rat. Cover your ears.