We are one week shy of the release of You’re Next, and I can’t fucking wait! Adam Wingard has appeared to thoroughly outdo himself as I have yet to read a single bad review for the latest addition to the home invasion genre. Wingard has a long line of hits already under his belt such as Pop Skull, segments in V/H/S and V/H/S/2, and he’s currently filming his next project; one that he wrote with Simon Barrett.
I love, love, love home invasion horror films. They play on many different psychological fears; fears of things that could actually happen. While zombies and vampires may be terrifying in a fantastical sense, in the back of all of our minds we know that all it would take is one open window or unlocked door for all hell to break loose in the place where we feel safest. This is horror at its finest for me, so in honor of the release of You’re Next, it’s home invasion celebration week on Lovecraft Reviews and I’ll be kicking it off with 10 films that feature home invasions and/or the victims rising up to kick ass and take names!
Read on, and check out inside the break!
The Strangers was released in 2008, directed by Bryan Bertino and stars Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman who play a couple staying at a remote vacation home after attending a friend’s wedding. When mysterious visitors start to appear at their front door at 4 in the morning, tensions start to rise as they realize that they are being toyed with in a sick game with no apparent motive. Who are these people in grotesque masks? They never speak, they move in the shadows and it’s hard to tell if they even take joy in toying with the emotions of the couple as the night wears on and day begins to break.
While there is little violence and gore in this film, its use of suspense is magnificent, ultimately leading to a brutal and unexpected ending. Needless to say, you will be double checking your locks after a late night viewing of this one.
Funny Games was written and directed by Michael Haneke, released first in his home country of Austria in 1997. He remade it for American audiences in 2008. The original has become legendary among horror circuits as a relentless, brutal and terrifying ride in the twisted minds of a pair of killers. After a family with a young son arrive at their Austrian vacation house beside a lake, their home is invaded by two young Viennese men who have torture on their minds. Employing the use of interesting cinematography, the film blurs the line between reality and fiction as the killers frequently acknowledge the presence of the camera, and in a way, the audience, which adds a completely different layer of unsettling creepiness.
I recently watched this film for the first time, be expecting a review in the next few days!
Aw, the French. They have a way with horror, much like the Japanese, that is hard to explain. Well, not really. They really like blood, guts and violence, and I am perfectly okay with that! Haute Tension (released in America as High Tension and the UK as Switchblade Romance) is a slasher film released in 2003 and directed by one of my absolute favorites, Alexandre Aja. It is attributed as being one of the forerunners of the New French Extremity movement, one that also includes Martyrs.
When Marie and Alex travel to Alex’ parents’ home in the French countryside, they plan on being able to have all the peace and quiet they could possibly desire for a few days while they study for school. However, the peace and quiet is cut short when a maniac wielding various power tools breaks into the house and begins systematically and brutally butchering Alex and her family, leaving Marie to fend for herself in the desolate French countryside, alone and scared.
This film definitely broke a lot of boundaries for me. It opened my eyes to the world of foreign horror, and I love it. It is not for the faint of heart, it is generally a film that I like to show people to get a laugh out of their reactions at the blatant and brutal gore.
While The Hills Have Eyes can be argued as to whether or not it should have a place in the home-invasion category, I’m still popping it in here. No, it’s not a house, it’s an RV, but much like You’re Next, it’s a wonderful example of a film where the victims scream ”Fuck this”, grab an axe and take back what’s theirs. Set in Nevada (New Mexico in the remake) the film follows the story of a family traveling cross country on vacation, when they venture off of the main road (much against the suggestion of the local gas station clerk) and end up broken down in a ditch due to an unseen booby trap. When a clan of deformed cannibals from the seemingly empty desert descends on them, they must fight for their lives and the lives of their loved ones, including new born baby Katie.
Based on the story of Sawney Bean, it was one of Wes Craven’s first great efforts before he became immortalized with his A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. While I prefer the 2006 remake directed by Alexandre Aja (two films in the list, he’s obviously one of my favorites), both are good for a deep seeded scare.
Straw Dogs is an example of a great movie, remade into a not so great movie. It combines elements of home invasion, backwoods terror, torture and antagonist/protagonist role reversal. In essence, it’s a damn near perfect film in my book. Dustin Hoffman (David) and Susan George (Amy) star in the Sam Peckinpah directed 1971 release, centered around a couple who move away from the big city back to Aly’s small country hometown to “get away from it all”. When the locals, including Amy’s ex-lover, begin to feel threatened by David’s intelligence, as a mathematician, they start to threaten the livelihood of the couple in a fierce battle that ends in life, and ultimately, death.
Another entry directed by Wes Craven, The Last House on the Left was one of the most controversial films of its time, tying in themes of the Vietnam war, rape, torture and once again, the turning of the tables i.e. from the hunted to the hunter. When Mari, a 17 year old girl, is raped and left for dead in the woods near her home, the killers unknowingly knock on her parent’s door pretending to be travelling salesmen. However, when Estelle (Mari’s mother) discovers a peace-sign necklace that she had given to Mari earlier that night among their things, their true identity is revealed and mama and papa bear are unleashed upon the unsuspecting killers.
The film was remade in 2009 and is a fine effort, however, I would recommend the original to the polished up remake.
One of my all-time favorite franchises is Scream. Yes, it’s cheesy. Yes, it’s corny and hokey and silly, but I just love it. I get chills every time I watch the original and while it may not be a home-invasion film, per se, the opening scene alone is enough to warrant inclusion in this list. Once again, another directed by Wes Craven, Scream tore into theaters in early 2007, reinventing the slasher wheel and giving fresh life to a genre thought dead by both critics and fans. It all started with a 10 minute intro, in which we see the beautiful young Drew Barrymore receive a call from a mysterious man who turns out to be her worst nightmare.
This series employs different elements of horror, and that’s why I love it. We see a recurring cast through all 4 films, a strong female lead who does more than run and cry, she fights back and she fights back hard. We see home invasion, the typical teen slasher format, who-dun-it scenarios, films within films, comedy, drama, we see it all, and I LOVE it.
I Spit On Your Grave. A film so controversial that 35 years after its release, it’s still banned in some countries. Directed by Meir Zarchi (who has done nothing else, aside from co-producing the remake in 2010), the film follows the story of Jennifer Hills, a beautiful young woman who rents a cabin by a lake in the isolated countryside so that she can work on her first novel. When a group of men that she meets in various places throughout town plan her abduction so that their mentally retarded friend can lose his virginity, things turn ugly and she is left for dead in the wilderness. After she pieces herself back together, she begins the ultimate game of cat and mouse and one by one reclaims everything that these men took from her in the form of their lives.
I enjoyed both the original and the remake of this one, I believe they both stand on their own merit. Prepare to squirm though, if you decide to watch either.
Once again, not home-invasion horror, I’m still putting it in the list. Hard Candy is an intensely suspenseful film that will have you on the edge of your seat anticipating its next move. The film focuses on the torture of a suspected child molester by a 14 year old vigilante, played by Ellen Page. I like this film because said child molester is played by Patrick Wilson, and I hate him. I also like this film because Ellen Page is an absolute badass, and you can’t believe the things that the seemingly sweet little girl does to Patrick Wilson. It’s an onion of love for me really.
In all reality, this movie is a punch straight to your feels. You don’t even know how to feel once you’ve finished watching it. All I know is it’s awesome and I’d definitely recommend it.
Now, as I’ve written this post (that’s gotten very longwinded, for which I apologize), I’ve tried to create a certain flow. The first 5 were straight up home invasion films, and as I’ve continued we’ve evolved into films with home invasion elements but happen to focus more on the victims turning the tables on the killers. This last one, you may think is silly, but it is hands down the greatest story of victim turned hero that I’ve read. That’s right, read, as the mini-series adaptation was absolute shite and I refuse to include it.
IT by Stephen King.
Considered to be the greatest work that he has ever done, IT is the terrifying story of an ominous presence who awakens once every 27 years to feed on small children. Using fear as its main weapon, IT likens it to “saltening the meat”, it can transform into various shapes, forms and beings to capture its prey.
The book tells the story of The Losers, a group of kids who encountered IT in they were children and return to their small hometown of Derry, ME 27 years later to fight the beast again when it returns to hunt. It is told in two parts, interlacing them throughout the epic novel, one of their first encounter with IT, and the other of their second. It is in my opinion the greatest tale of victims fighting back, not merely running with their tails between their legs, ultimately awaiting their untimely demise.
So what is YOUR favorite home-invasion flick? Sound off in the comments. And remember! It’s gonna be a glorious week leading up to You’re Next, you must stay tuned to Lovecraft Reviews for more home-invasion celebration as I will be posting reviews, articles and other fun stuff all revolving around my favorite sub-genre of horror!
- Rg Lovecraft