There’s little more unsettling than the thought of the sanctuary of your home being invaded by some outside force – which is why it’s such a recurring theme in horror. From The Strangers to The Purge to Inside, there’s a long and storied history of these kind of tales scaring the shit out of cinematic horror-lovers for decades. And, as the cinematic horror-lover in your midst, it feels only right that I should add to our Big List of All Things Horror with some brilliant home invasion horror movies. To the list!
- Hell is Where the Home Is
Yes, it’s a silly title, but this nail-chewing thriller is one of the slickest, simplest, and tensest in the genre. Following a pair of dysfunctional couples as they take a drug-addled trip to try and repair their respective relationships, I was drawn to it because of Fairuza Balk, of The Craft fame, and she’s certainly a creepy, deepy watchable presence. But it’s the constant escalation, the inability to guess where the next threat is coming from and how it might make itself known, that really lifts this pitch-black thriller into proper horror territory. It’s a spin on the genre, with a call-coming-from-inside-the-house take, and strong performances from the tiny and brilliant cast turn it into something genuinely – and in a very human way – very unsettling.
2. You’re Next
Before the disaster of Death Note, Adam Wingard was actually out here making really solid, subversive horror, and You’re Next is probably the best example of that. Wingard and company take the horror of an estranged family get-together and throw in a mad slasher home invasion twist – the character work is strong enough to make the action that follows really land, and the sly, subversive sense of humour (along with a great turn from mumblecore icon Joe Swanberg) mark it as one of the most stone-cold entertaining entrances to the genre.
This is a Mike Flanagan stan blog, in case you didn’t already know, and Hush happened to be the first movie I ever saw from the esteemed Flan-Man. Starring Katie Siegel and John Gallagher Junior, it’s a simple but pitch-perfect set-up: a deaf woman deals with an unknown man breaking into her house, and has to survive the night at the hands of her would-be attacker. It’s a simple idea, but Flanagan brings it to life with a strong script, great characters who feel well-developed despite the lean runtime, and most of all, a brilliantly claustrophobic directorial style that leaves the house feeling smaller and smaller with every go-around. There’s a reason that I’ve found myself coming back to his work as often as I have, and, with an introduction as good as this, it’s easy to see why.
By Louise MacGregor
(header image via Bloody Disgusting)