It’s time rectify a mistake I made. The mistake I am speaking of is the last home invasion list I made (which you can read here, even though I am ashamed of it). The reality behind the piece is that it taught me a lot of about writing. Don’t get me wrong, a list of home invasion movies being delivered during a fictional account of a home invasion was cool in CONCEPT, though the actual execution was lacking greatly, solely because I focused so much on the nuances of the actual story that I fucked up some of the entries on the list.
Wanting to make the story “flow” caused a lack of fact checking, which caused me to be called out (justifiably), which caused me to act like an ass (unjustifiably), and that has been really bothering me since. So now, as a means of fixing my past faux pas, I present to you all, THE ABSOLUTE TEN BEST home invasion horror films, with no filler or bullshit. Sorry if it seems like a retread, but rest assured, it is a complete rewrite. I refuse to even look at that last version ever again. Also, if I never said it, sorry about that. And the final reason I am writing this, The Purge was a huge let down, and I wanted to point people in the direction of what some GOOD home invasion horror movies were in case that film skewed that for anyone.
” Give me a high five or I will kill Tim Roth.”
Though it took me a long time to dwell upon, I have decided, only in the last month, that Funny Games is, to me, the best horror film ever made. Why? Because it reflects back the sickness of us horror fans and asks us, without asking us, why. Why do we want to see suffering? Why do we want to see gore? And when we finally do see it, why does it upset us? Funny Games begs this question of the viewer, and the worst part is, we can’t answer. The film just leaves you with that sick feeling that you partook in something you should not have, yet there is nothing you can do about it.
And the real kicker with Funny Games is that you LET these guys into your home. You invite in your killer. It is that old vampire mythos. They cannot harm you if they cannot come in, and they cannot come in unless you invite them so aren’t you ultimately accepting and sealing your OWN fate? Funny Games is a devastating, twisted ride that cannot be properly summed up in words, but rather, needs to be experienced. Ok, I will stop with Funny Games for awhile now, I promise.
If seeing a woman in this pose is familiar to you, just hang yourself right now.
A very different kind of home invasion film, Inside presents us a female version of the home invasion story, and cranks up the tension by making the unborn baby in the protagonist’ stomach the main reason behind the home invasion. So not only is someone coming into your home and trying to harm you (on Christmas), but they are trying to take your baby from you. It is a wholly terrifying concept only further driven home by the unbelievable performances by the two leads in this film.
Inside is from the French school of extreme film making, and be forewarned, like the above mentioned movie, if you have a soul, this film will make it feel a bit dirty by the time it is over. But shouldn’t the best home invasion horror do that? Isn’t the very concept behind it that nowhere and no one is ever safe? If you want happy endings, go to massage parlors, but do NOT watch home invasion horror, because, as with this next example, too, you rarely get them.
You think your job sucks? Try being the “inside of a bag” inspector.
I am finding it shocking how many people didn’t like Kidnapped. The Spanish (NOT FRENCH) home invasion horror film from 2010 seems to make most people who see it rather uneasy, and rather upset by the time the movie plays out, and in that final shot of the movie, I can completely understand why, but in the same breath, what would you watch home invasion horror for? Would you watch it to feel happy? How can any of these movies possibly play out well? And when you look at the two above examples, you need to know, Kidnapped is in perfect company.
Kidnapped, which is an odd and off putting name for this film, is about a family who’s home gets invaded by some terrible men (obviously) who are looking to extort money from the father. We then tag along for the evening as all the events unfold, and much like the above film, expect to yelling at your screen a lot, because the characters in this film make some terrible choices, but what we all need to think about when we subject ourselves to such a film is what would we do in the same situation? Like, really, what would we do? Can we condemn these characters if we cannot be sure we would act just irrationally?
Christ, I can’t play Perfection without my hands shaking and me trying to jam a star shaped peg into an obviously circle hole, so I can only assume I would make as bad, if not WORSE choices than the family in this picture. Still though, amazing film.
The old “nail in the eye through the keyhole gag” gets them every time.
Am I the only one who sees these two as the same film?
Ils (also known as Them) is a chilling (French!) tale about two lovers who just moved into their countryside home, and are being terrorized by a group of faceless antagonists, (only faceless because they all have hoodies on). We follow these two across one rainy evening, as the madness escalates and finally comes to a boil, with a story reveal too awesome for me to ruin here (though I already did, inadvertently and subtly, I think).
Very much a remake of the above movie, even if no one admits it.
The Strangers is about, well, the exact same thing. With some of the exact same shots (closet shot, I’m looking at you) and pretty much the exact same ending, with the French film being superior on almost all counts. But both films offer us different insight into the home invasion idea. Where most films focus on family being affected and harassed, The Strangers and Ils showed us how home invasions impact one couple. And to any of us who live with our significant others can attest to, that is some scary shit to think about.
I’d be stabbing motherf*ckers.
” Call me four eyes ONE MORE TIME…”
As you can see from this list here, the films on THIS list have had a rather profound impact on me. And Straw Dogs was one of those movies for one reason and one reason only. The rape scene. While I don’t want to turn this into an article that asks existential, philosophical questions about rape in film, I do want to say that the implied enjoyment in the rape scene was something that sort of stained my soul, and I have yet to get over that. I understand that was a crucial element for the story to push along its blistering climax, but it is one that gets under the skin of even the strongest of us.
And much like Funny Games, Straw Dogs has a pretty spot on remake, but see the original for the shocking Dustin Hoffman performance, which you will never forget. Those final shots, when his glasses are broken and he has been reduced to some sort of primal animal, is acting at its finest. And film making at its most unsettling.
Also, Hoffman is a method actor, and this begs the question, how does on prepare themselves for a role like THIS?
I wonder if Nike would endorse him if he put their logo on his mask before he went on a kill spree?
Though this film has some glaring holes throughout, it is an awesome spin on the home invasion idea, with a home invasion happening while there is already a robbery going on. Then, the man we THINK is the antagonist of the film becomes the protagonist because he figures out that the second man who invaded the house is just a mad man, bent on taking human trophies after making them endure some brutal torture. It has since spawned a (fun, but inferior) sequel, with rumors of a final film rounding out the “trilogy”.
Also, this one gets extra points for the awesome, yet deceptively simple mask design and giant shiny eyes of the “collector”. Very cool stuff.
Hostage: Yes, it’s a Bruce Willis film about a home invasion, but this movie needs to be seen for the incredibly unnerving performance from Ben Foster. I won’t lie, I kinda love this film, and Foster is that reason.
Panic Room: Though the movie itself is not that good, it is worth seeing for two things. One, David Fincher’s direction is never less than gorgeous. Two, this is the movie where Kristen Stewart played a little skater boy. Wait, she is a girl in that movie? Oh….
A hint of the absolute blandness to come.
Wait Until Dark: Is this home invasion horror with Audrey Hepburn? Is it really about her being blind, and mistakenly having a doll filled up with heroine, and some bad dudes try to come take it back? Yes, this is THAT movie.
And hey, if you like this crap, you would LOVE this crap…