Through skilful editing, writing and governing, these location-based films move between brilliance and madness.
In these strange times, it's time to finally catch up on all the films you've never seen before. Some are the better choices right now, like this list of happy-go-lucky movies that all have a positive plot. Others you might want to stay away from, such as contagion and 28 days later. Then there is this list somewhere in the middle.
"Single Location" films are some of my favorites. They force the director, actor, author and DP to improve their game because they have limited space and a limited setting. With that premise, some incredible films were made, and today we're going to talk about some of them.
Perhaps the greatest work by director Duncan Jones, Moon, has fascinated viewers since its release. The effects are both minimal and impressively innovative, as is the script written by Nathan Parker. It's a master class in terms of performance, blocking and editing as the pace never really drops. It seems inevitable that a single actor film will struggle to get viewers' attention. But Moon takes his premise and throws it out of the park.
Goes well with The Martian and All is Lost.
2. Green room
Perhaps one of the most intense single-location-oriented films ever made. The condition? Simple. A punk rock band is stuck in a music bar because of an unfortunate incident involving the employees and participants of the venue. Jeremy Saulnier, who created the outstanding Blue Ruin, stages the living hell from this film.
Like Moon, Green Room is a perfect example of how good editing can get your film from eight to eleven. Is this film underestimated? I feel like I don't hear enough of it and I would like to.
Goes well with mother! and saw.
3. The glow
Here is something. Everyone knows that Stephen King didn't like the movie, but did you know the movie was nominated for two Razzie Awards? Worst actress and worst director. Yes, The Shining was nominated for the worst director. But hey, whatever.
The best thing about this film is that you can watch it again and again and find new things and interpret them in new ways. What are you going to do now? Do you have to be anywhere?
Goes well with Being John Malkovich and Upgrade.
4. Throw away
Given the recent news about Tom Hanks, I think it is necessary to add Cast Away to the list. No, it's not technically stuck inside, but it's stuck. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, the film was an instant hit. With iconic characters like Wilson, unforgettable moments like "I made a fire" and Tom Hanks' insane transformation towards the end of the film, how could it not be? What else can i say It is a classic and always worth a watch.
Goes well with the terminal.
5. The fog
This is another adaptation of Stephen King, and I'm starting to see a trend here. The Mist, this pseudo-monster / psycho-horror classic, finds a lot of strangers in a city that is being quarantined in a supermarket while a mysterious fog is devastating the city outside. It is claustrophobic, tragic and very well written. The ending is as bleak as a movie can be, but building it up is one of the most entertaining horror tweaks that really work alongside Andy Muschiettis IT.
Goes well with quarantine and 12 monkeys.
6. A little princess
Probably the most underrated film by Alfonso Cuarón. A little princess is about a girl who was essentially stuck in a boarding school in New York during the First World War. It's a wonderful little film and a good example of how Cuarón really went a long way in his craft while remaining consistent in his ability to tell a story with really lovable characters. Give him a watch!
Goes well with Roma (not at all like, I just want everyone to see Roma.) Oh wait … gravity! It is similar.
7. The lighthouse
I'm willing to bet you've seen The Lighthouse by now. It's one of the most popular films of 2019 and features some of the craziest performances of late. Willem Dafoe absolutely loses it and goes crazy. The film takes place in a lighthouse off the coast of New England in the 1890s. The two cables are stuck on an island due to the bad weather and let's just say that they can't handle the insulation well. The film was nominated for the best camera at the Oscars 2020. If you want to learn how to illuminate small spaces, this film is a good subject to study.
Goes well with Devil and The Blair Witch Project.
8. Joan Cusack from Shameless
Okay, it's not a movie, but do you remember this madness? Now I was pretty late at Shameless and, admittedly, was in shock most of the first season. But Joan Cusack's character Sheila Jackson simply cannot leave her house. She is afraid to go outside and it takes a year and a half to slowly overcome this fear. Frankly, it was just such a crazy character and performance so crazy that I couldn't add it to the list. Joan Cusack for the President!
Goes well with Nick Swardson in The Benchwarmers, with the fear of going outside being a major theme.
I'm sorry to have mentioned this film at all. If you haven't seen it yet, just keep going, keep scrolling, watch A Little Princess, and do something other than this movie. But when you saw it, you know. I personally like the film. Kevin Smith literally created a monster. I think it's fun, well shot and really crazy.
Greet James Laxton for shooting this beast before he made it big with Moonlight. I like films where I wonder how the hell something could be financed. But yes, the main character is stuck in a house and cannot walk. That's all I'm going to say now.
Goes well with a dash of whiskey and a prayer.
10. The Truman Show
Now I know that it is not "technical" inside, but also "technical". He's trapped and the film is slow and is one of the best, if not the best, of his career from Jim Carrey. The Truman Show is like no other film and will always be a source of comfort for me. I remember seeing it in middle school and wondering how you can feel in a movie.
Doesn't go well with anything. Watch this movie and think about what it means to be alive.
Cover picture via A24.
Would you like more ideas on what to see? Learn more about film history and get some ideas here: