10 Great Single Location Horror Movies

A single location + an ensemble cast + some spooky shit = a horror bottle movie!

Single Location Horror

5. Panic Room (2002)

Panic Room

When a group of criminals break into a house under the illusion that they’re robbing the previous owner, a mother (Jodie Foster) and her diabetic daughter (Kristen Stewart) are forced into a nerve-shredding game of cat-and-mouse. Like all great single-location thrillers, Panic Room relies on great writing and strong characters to keep us invested in the story, but the film’s meticulous attention adds an authenticity to proceedings that forces viewers to confront their own mortality. On top of those qualities, the film is only enhanced by David Fincher’s masterful ability to create tension and suspense. (Kieran Fisher)


4. [REC] (2007)

Rec

There’s no single size definition when it comes to “single location” horror meaning that a film set entirely in a cabin counts every bit as much as one set in a car. [REC] stretches that geography to include an entire apartment building, but even with multiple floors and apartments it still delivers a terrifyingly claustrophobic gem. We move from the ground floors up through the penthouse like some kind of horror-filled riff on The Raid, and the characters’ desperation to escape becomes our own. The film is a modern classic (with an equally awesome sequel) that turns its single locale into a legitimately frightening gore zone. (Rob Hunter)


3. The Shining (1980)

Shining

It’s a cliche to say that a setting becomes a character in a film, but that doesn’t make it any less true for The Shining’s Overlook Hotel. Credit to Stanley Kubrick’s meticulous craft, the hotel is winding and twisting in ways that don’t at all match up with the exterior geography. It’s a beguiling labyrinth that seems to come alive as the Torrance family becomes increasingly isolated. The Overlook Hotel is both expansive and claustrophobic, an inescapable maze of corridors and rooms that seems to slowly but surely close in on the people inside it like an animal attacking its prey. (Anna Swanson)


2. The Invitation (2015)

The Invitation

No supernatural shenanigans, no monsters, just the horror of being trapped at the world’s most uncomfortable dinner party. The soiree in Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation is a tense, awkward, off-kilter night of “hey haven’t seen you in two years lets unpack all our emotional baggage.” So. You know. A dinner party. And really, is there a more relatable horror than being forced to keep up polite airs when all you want to do is run screaming out of a room? Unfortunately, like our unhinged protagonist Will, we are trapped in this lavish LA house, luckily long enough to get a sense of the floor plan and to clock all possible exit routes. (Meg Shields)


1. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Notld

Having watched Night of the Living Dead countless times, at this point, I now play the film like a video game. I’m Barbara (Judith O’Dea). They’re coming to get me. My catatonic life bar is in the red. I gotta bring it down, or the ghouls will feast on my flesh before the sun rises. Know your surroundings, mark your exits and trouble areas. The windows need to get boarded. The attic needs to be cleared. The basement is the fallback zone if all else fails. All else always fails. I’m Barbara, and I’m doomed. We’re all doomed cuz we all want inside that damn house. As the apocalypse crests over the horizon, the Night of the Living Dead farmhouse is about as good a bunker as you could ask for. The only problem are the other fools who want in as well, and I’m not talking about the zombies here. Romero populates the rooms with the desperate and reveals the great failing of humanity. Can’t we all just get along? No. No, we cannot. The video game is rigged. (Brad Gullickson)

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Actor. Writer. Available to host your next public access show. Find more of my writing at Rue Morgue, Ghastly Grinning, Diabolique Magazine, and Grim Magazine.