Some of the best horror movies ever made involve characters getting caught up in a common misfortune: home invasion. While rampant gore, the undead, and killer clowns are creepy and frightening, nothing is scarier than a horror film which revolves around everyday events. These terrifying home invasion movies will have you triple-checking your door locks at night well after Halloween is over.
The Purge (2013)
The Purge features the trials of the Sandin family, who have to endure the psychological torture of knowing what dangers await them as their city plunges into chaos. After becoming victims of home invaders, the family struggles to keep their lives and consciences intact. The Purge is chilling not just because of its violence, but because it forces the viewer to think of things which some fear may eventually happen in our own society: economic collapse, a police state, brutal population control, and a system where any and every crime is sanctioned.
When a Stranger Calls (1979)
When a Stranger Calls is a classic horror film in which home invasion plays a key role. In it, psychopathic killer Curt Duncan heaps violence and abuse upon his unsuspecting victims, slipping in and out of their homes unnoticed, while a vindictive detective tries to to take him down. If When a Stranger Calls were set in the modern day, there is no doubt the plot would have to account for our society’s reliance on technology. Perhaps we would see character Jill Johnson posting to social media for help, and Detective Clifford’s mission to find Duncan probably would’ve been more efficient and less crazed. Nevertheless, its style and masterful use of psychological terror is what makes When a Stranger Calls well worth seeing nearly 40 years after its premiere.
Funny Games (1997)
When a nice family embarks on a lakeside vacation and run into a pair of sadistic sociopaths, the result is the shocking cycle of terror that is Funny Games. The film’s two villains, Peter and Paul, don’t just break into the Schober family’s home, the murderous duo break every ounce of security they thought they had and literally destroy their lives. Few have been able to answer Paul’s question to the audience, “What are you looking at and why?”, which is part of what makes Funny Games so unnerving.
Panic Room (2002)
In Panic Room, Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart play Meg and Sarah Altman, a divorced mother and her daughter who have their lives turned upside down when three men break into their new home. Not only are the men after money which is hidden in a safe inside the house, one of them actually works for the security company that is supposed to be protecting the family – so much for top of the line video surveillance. With their security system, phone lines, and all rooms of the house except for one taken over, Meg and Sarah try to find protection by hiding in the house’s panic room. What ensues is a suspenseful chain of events, capped off by an ending that provokes anyone watching to question morality and what they would do if caught in the all too real scenario presented by the film.
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
This is a classic dystopian movie where home invasion is at its most sinister. This Stanley Kubrick film features Malcolm McDowell playing a violent delinquent named Alex DeLarge, who leads his three unhinged friends on a crime spree. In one of the film’s more cringe-worthy scenes, Alex and his gang commit unspeakable acts against a couple after breaking into their home. If only the Alexander family had a good home security system rather than a flimsy door chain, that awful raid probably could have been avoided and “Singin’ in the Rain” wouldn’t have had to suffer such a dreadful rendition.
Home invasion horror movies provide a good psychological thrill without a bunch of campy drama or overused gore, which is what makes them so engrossing. These five films exemplify the best of the genre by turning the home – what should be a peaceful, secure place – into a horrific battleground.