A reader recently posed the question on our site asking what are the best closed environment horror movies around. It’s a loaded question since like all sub genres of horror there are literally thousands of films which makes it tricky.
I have compiled 11 films I think are outstanding examples of closed environment horror movies where the isolation plays into the terror of the overall film. That said I will concede this may not in fact be the 11 best but we should all be able to agree whole heartedly this is 11 that any horror loving freak should check out.
Toby Wilkins is a really talented director. His film SPLINTER was shot on a shoestring budget and is about a criminal who car jacks a couple and ends up trapped with them in a gas station as a ‘thing’ comes out of the woods.
Splinter should have gotten a theatrical release and in my books is one of the best horror movies of the last 10 years much less one of the best isolation based horror movies. It’s the closest thing to THE THING you will see and its also a completely new and terrifying story that pays tribute to the classic horror of The Thing without ripping it off.
Night of the living dead:
Night of the Living Dead set it off for the zombie genre. I know it’s a bit sacrilegious to say but I would encourage you to not just checkout the 1968 version which George Romero directed but also checkout the remake which Tom Salvini directed and George Romero produced. For me Romero’s was better because it was the first but just too really stir the pot I think Salvini’s version offered more for Zombie fans.
Tom Savini is a complete jerk from my experiences meeting him but he is one hell of a talented FX guy and Director. Night of the Living Dead is of course about the end of the world as the dead walk and a group of stranger’s band together in a farmhouse to survive the end of the world.
The descent is the perfect movie to scare the hell out of you if you have a fear of small spaces or are severely claustrophobic. I am not sure if I have severe claustrophobia but I can tell you I do not like tight spaces and The Descent made me sweat.
Add to the fact that when a group of rock climbing women get trapped in the caves they encounter a new species bent on making them lunch and you have one hell of a creepy film of terror, isolation and claustrophobia. I would also encourage you to check out the sequel Descent 2 which just hit DVD and is almost as good as the first one.
Right At your Door
Right at Your Door is a truly fantastic indie film of apocalyptic destruction. The film is entirely based around a small house where a man barricades himself in after a dirty bomb goes off in downtown LA. Unfortunately his wife was at work and soon returns home where he must make the decision to let her in and face infection or keep her out and try to survive.
The film is a fantastic character piece with a ton of thrills, great dialogue and an ending that will impress you. Really one of the best lesser known films or isolated terror.
A lot of people did not like The Mist but I for one thought it was a fantastic film. It’s the story of a storm that hits a small community and a mist that rolls in and brings an evil with it. The community bands together in a local shopping mart and tries to survive what could very well be the end of the world. The Mist is a fantastic sci-fi-horror tale with an ending that literally had me gasping.
Blindness stars Mark Buffalo and Julianne Moore and is about a plague of blindness that is running rampant throughout the world. Those who are infected are quarantined into a small prison like facility and must try to survive as the world around them collapses. If they try to leave the army will kill them but if they stay inside worse things are waiting as humanity slowly leaves their prison as desperation and viciousness settles in. A truly disturbing and intense horror film that is one of my personal favourites of the last 10 years.
Pontypool is the closest thing to Night of the Living Dead you will get without ripping it off completely. It tells the story of a Disc Jockey who is on the air as the world comes to an end due to a strange virus spread by the sound waves which turns people into zombie like maniacal killers. This film is quite similar to the new film DEAD AIR which starred Bill Moseley accept PontyPool plays out quite literally like a well thought out stage play. Intense characters, very little action and literally only 3 rooms in the entire film but it’s a movie that will stay with you and impress the hell out of you. If you liked CARRIERS you will definitely want to check out PONTYPOOL.
Jack Nicholson starred in this film about a boy and his family who go to a hotel to maintain it in the off season only to have dear old dad go absolutely bananas and try to kill the family. Jack Nicholson put himself on the map with this role and quite frankly he plays crazy a little too well for my liking. The Shining is one of those movies every horror fan should see.
Day of the Dead
This was a tough one I couldn’t decide between Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead for quite awhile since both are such fantastic films. I ended up going with Day over Dawn mainly because in Day of the Dead they focus on survivors of the zombie apocalypse living in an underground bunker and for me it felt more isolated then the mall setting of Dawn of the Dead. I am of course talking about George Romero’s originally Day of the Dead here. You can check out the sequel starring Mena Suvari or Day of The Dead 2 Contagium but only if you like being stabbed in the face with a rusty fork. Where Romero’s original story is genius the remakes/sequels are REALLY REALLY bad.
End of the Line
End of the Line is a low budget Canadian horror film about a group of religious nuts who conspire to set off the end of days and actually manage to pull it off. Shot on a very small budget it takes place primarily on an underground subway and is both creepy and disturbing and really felt like a throwback to classic horror where characters and story were the focus. From creepy murderous kids to evil religious cult leaders and frantic running through subways… End of the Line delivers it all. A great film that every fan of isolation horror should see.
The last film on my list is the mother of all isolation films and also in this case a remake. John Carpenters remake of The Thing starring Kurt Russell tells the story of an isolated research camp in the arctic which is attacked by ‘the thing’. Easily the most isolated of locations possible it features fantastic visual FX, great characters and intense action. The Thing is one of the Top 10 Horror Movies of all times according to our Horror tomb and fan reviews and is clearly a movie every fan should see.
Now that you have seen what I consider to be the Best please take a minute and share your own in the comments below.