Home invasion films have the ability to grasp viewers in ways that supernatural movies just can’t touch. The subgenre features horror in realistic ways that makes us check behind our shower curtains, in the backseat of our cars, and jump at unexpected knocks at the door. The thought of being a victim in our own homes is beyond terrifying. So hide your children, hide your wives, and triple check your locks as we take a look at ten intense home invasion films.
10. Vacancy (2006)
I’m going to cheat a little here, since this is more of a motel invasion instead of home invasion. A couple (Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson) gets stranded in a remote area and settles into a grimy motel room for the night. They discover snuff films that were made in that same room and soon become tormented by the employees. I was pleasantly surprised to see so much gore and brutality in a film featuring such mainstream actors, even if there are a few tired clichés throughout.
9. When a Stranger Calls (1979)
Everyone knows the urban legend of “the calls are coming from inside the house,” which is the main premise for When a Stranger Calls. Admittedly, the film isn’t great, but the first twenty minutes alone has earned it a cult following. The opening is considered one of the most terrifying in horror history and has gone on to inspire slasher films and filmmakers.
8. The Collector (2009)
Originally envisioned as a Saw prequel, The Collector features an unknown assailant turning a house into a booby-trapped nightmare for the family who lives there. A would-be burglar, played by Josh Stewart, also gets caught up in the action by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Not knowing the motives or any details about the killer makes the film feel even more raw and barbaric.
7. The Strangers (2008)
Following a marriage proposal gone horribly wrong, a couple (Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman) gets hunted down by three attackers at their secluded vacation house. Unfortunately, the couple makes a lot of dumb decisions throughout the film, but it is saved when the killers give their simplistic, sociopathic reason for the killings. Their masks are downright terrifying, as well.
6. You’re Next (2011)
You’re Next is a perfect example of why Adam Wingard has become one of my favorite modern horror filmmakers. The dark humor and ruthless kills are nicely woven together while maintaining a classic Agatha Christie atmosphere. The female heroine, played by Sharni Vinson, is smart and ruthless, which was a breath of fresh air. I also have to mention the animal masks worn by the killers because they’re the stuff that nightmares are made of.
5. Them (2006)
Instead of relying on outright blood splatter, this French-Romanian film lets the viewers use their imaginations as a couple fights multiple young attackers in and around their home. The tension remains thick and unnerving, all the way up until the gut-punch ending. It is chilling and way too realistic for comfort.
4. Hush (2016)
A deaf and mute writer (Kate Siegel) living alone in the woods finds herself in cat-and-mouse game with a sadistic killer (John Gallagher, Jr.). Oh, and her quaint cabin has about fifty windows without curtains. Hush is one of the best modern horror films I’ve seen, mainly thanks to Siegel’s performance. Her character had some obstacles to overcome, but she was incredibly smart and gave an accurate portrayal of a woman in that situation. That can be a bit rare in home invasion films. I can’t recommend this movie enough. Be sure to check out the official review from a fellow PopHorror.com writer here.
3. High Tension (2003)
Two best friends, Marie (Cécile de France) and Alex (Maïwenn) go to Alex’s parent’s house in the countryside. I can’t go into much detail without giving spoilers, but the film’s insane twist is fantastic. High Tension is brutal, disturbing, and a crucial addition to the New French Extremism movement.
2. Inside (2007)
Yet another French horror makes the list! Inside features extreme gore and a very pregnant belly, which is enough to make even hardcore horror fans cringe. The psychopath in this film is also a woman, showing that the directors weren’t afraid of film taboos. The overall story is heart-wrenching and it will definitely leave you with images that won’t leave your head anytime soon.
1. Funny Games (1997)
In this Austrian film, two young men (Arno Frisch and Frank Giering) take a family hostage at a lakeside vacation house. The pair begins sadistically toying with the family while finding ways to inflict pain and torture. Funny Games made me incredibly awkward at times and went much further than expected. The most terrifying aspect of Funny Games is violence simply for the sake of entertainment. There was a shot-by-shot American remake made 2007 by the same writer and director. It was unnecessary, but fantastic nonetheless. Out of all the home invasion films, the original Funny Games is my personal favorite.
So, horror fans, in order to survive a crisis, just remember that window blinds are good, security systems are good, and the French are terrifying bastards. Also, don’t forget to let us know if any of these films made you nervous about bumps in the night!