The weight of the COVID-19 pandemic and self-isolation mandates are taking their toll on the world. The dangerous nature of the coronavirus itself is worrying enough, but not being able to see family, friends, partners, and colleagues is an extra kicker that only adds to the misery of the experience. The walls are closing in, and the need for entertainment is stronger than ever.
The idea of being indoors doesn’t have to be horrible, though. There are movies and TV shows out there that complement being stuck inside in a fun way. Whether it’s with an awesome bottle episode of a notable series or a great movie that take place primarily indoors, creatives have found interesting ways to explore this concept.
This list is dedicated to celebrating those movies. While you won’t find any horror films about kidnappings, burials, or people being held in captivity, those of you who prefer your entertainment with a dark streak will still find plenty to enjoy here. All in all, this selection has been curated to make you feel good about the indoor world. Hopefully, it temporarily distracts you from the world’s bigger problems.
Alfred Hitchock’s drama follows two geniuses who believe they’ve committed the perfect crime, then decide to throw a dinner party to celebrate. Given its murderous subject matter, Rope probably isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time while they’re in lockdown, but that shouldn’t stop you from watching the film by any means. In addition to being the first notable one-shot film, Rope also makes great use of its single location indoor setting, retaining the intimacy of the Patrick Hamilton play it’s adapted from while packing every scene with tension and suspense. At the same time, the movie is also a lot of fun due to its colorful characters and plot twists. If only all dinner parties were this exciting.
Rear Window (1954)
Rear Window is an incredible thriller about a serial killer, and that’s a horrifying premise for sure. That said, Hitchock’s masterpiece is also one of the best movies to capture the feeling of being stuck at home, bored, and aimlessly staring out of a window at the world passing by. Fortunately for James Stewart’s injured and idle voyeuristic protagonist, he eventually finds some excitement when he suspects that one of his neighbors might have murderous tendencies. Rear Window is also peppered with humor and romance, and as long as people have those things in their life, being stuck in the house ain’t so bad.
12 Angry Men (1957)
Jury duty has a reputation for being boring, annoying, inconvenient, and stressful. However, in this classic from the indelible Sidney Lumet, which tells the story of 12 men who have been summoned to decide the verdict of a murder trial, going to court is riveting. Granted, most of the film’s jurors don’t want to be there, but thanks to one truth-seeking participant, they come around. Most of the movie consists of the men sitting in a room, debating and arguing over the case. But their pursuit of justice, along with the film’s perfect script and powerhouse performances, makes 12 Angry Men a feel-good stuck-indoors flick in its own way.
Grey Gardens (1975)
This documentary chronicles the domestic life of former model Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter (“Little Edie”), who lived together isolated in a dilapidated mansion for decades. Their house was infested with rats, bugs, and raccoons, and the building was decaying across the board. The mansion was renovated and brought up to standards eventually, but Grey Gardens looks back at the filthier times for the most part. While that premise is quite grim on paper, the eccentric subjects are very entertaining and endearing, which makes for some upbeat viewing. It’s impossible to watch Grey Gardens and not smile.
The Breakfast Club (1985)
A day of Saturday detention brings together a disparate group of high school students in this definitive coming-of-age movie from John Hughes. The story revolves around a group of teenagers from different backgrounds and social circles whose day stuck indoors together causes them to bond with each other, and they realize that they have some things in common after all. The Breakfast Club is a movie that will forever resonate with young people because of its existential themes and emotional power, but it also makes detention look like a freaking blast. As someone who spent a lot of time in detention, though, I can assure you that it’s not.
Home Alone (1990)
There comes a time in every kid’s life when they want their parents to go away just so they can have the house to themselves. The John Hughes-penned Home Alone runs with this idea and applies it to the format of a home invasion movie with hilarious results. The film tells the story of a kid (Macaulay Culkin) who, after being accidentally abandoned by his family during the holidays, must protect their home from burglars. While the kid’s final showdown with the criminals is raucously entertaining, some of the film’s funniest moments are the ones when he is simply appreciating having the house to himself and trying to become independent as a result. If you want to see a darker version of this concept, check out 1989’s Deadly Games.
This underappreciated ‘90s comedy is one of the only movies that make being in a hostage situation look like a fun experience. Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi, and Adam Sandler star in Airheads as deadbeat heavy-metal musicians who break into a radio station with fake guns and order the DJ to play their music. Unfortunately, their demo doesn’t work, which means they have to wait around for hours until a new one is brought to them. But everyone ends up having a rockin’ good time thanks to the power of loud music, and they become fast friends. Well, everyone apart from the station’s uppity boss, who spends most of the movie gagged and tied to a chair.
Chicken Run (2000)
Humans aren’t the only living creatures that must spend time indoors. Chickens spend most of their days in coops until it’s time to be sent to the grinder, where they get turned into food. In Chicken Run, the birds are confined to coops and barns, and the owner of the farm is a dictator who keeps a watchful eye over them. They just want to escape, so they hatch (pun intended) a plan to do so. That said, the chickens still manage to have some good times, despite their predicament. When the lights go down, they have parties and dance, just like humans do in their own homes. This is still Aardman’s best movie, and it’s an empowering one, too.
Essentially a remake of Rear Window for teenagers, this one stars Shia LaBeouf as a young upstart on house arrest. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make him the most trustworthy source in everyone else’s eyes when he becomes suspicious of his neighbor, who might be a killer. Disturbia might not be as revered as Rear Window, but it’s an entertaining YA thriller with some charismatic performances across the board.
Gone Girl (2014)
David Fincher‘s films are quite dark, but they also are comfort movies due to their rewatch value. Gone Girl explores themes such as dishonesty, domestic turmoil, and other troubling ideas. Rosamund Pike’s character even cuts a guy’s throat open and bathes in his blood. But her husband (Ben Affleck) spends most of the movie locked in a beautiful house, working with his lawyer in an effort to stop his spouse from ruining his life. And it’s oddly soothing, like observing a high stakes game of chess between masters of the art form. Gone Girl is the perfect movie for being stuck indoors on a rainy day, and the film’s story of an angry wife trying to frame her husband for her own fake murder is preposterously entertaining.