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Every time that "oops!" GIF popped up, I hooted like a loon.

Excellent post! Though you kind of spoiled Devil. Then again, Devil sucked, so I'll let it slide.

I don't even have claustrophobia, but Buried made me so uncomfortable I had to make my boyfriend pause it every now and again so I could get up and pace around the room.


Great post.

The single-setting genre reminds me of thriller "The Hole" (Thora Birch vehicle, along w/ pre-Pirates Keira Knightley). It wasn't exactly horror though I remember some pretty gross parts of it. That movie made me hate Thora Birch forever.

emily jean

I think I might be brave enough to watch "Buried" now.

Nah, probably not.

Awesome post!

Third Street Milwaukee


As someone who has actually swum with bull sharks can're right. They're total maneaters, but the sight of them inspires not so much fear as a low-grade dose of reasonable caution: "okay, I'm not gonna thrash around in the water, and I probably won't poke 'em in the face to see how it reacts." Whereas the site of a Great White shark in open water would probz cause me to spontaneously piss, shit, vomit, and cry, all at the same time.

But I still found Open Water effective. The sharks themselves don't scare that much, but the threat of Death From Below, the way our eyeline is mostly confined--along with our protagonists'--above the surface of the water...I found plenty of genuine menace and terror in that.


i love chick tracts more than anything in the world. i mean, not in a i love god way, but in a i can't believe this actually exists. they had them at a childhood ice cream parlor. so i'm excited there's a crappy movie just like one. i can't wait until it's edited out on fx.

Kim Score

Some great picks, but how in the world could you not include The Descent? One of the scariest movies ever made.


I agree with Bobo - Open Water was pretty effective for me, too. But that might just be because it feeds right into one of my biggest fears - the sea. It's exactlywhat Bobo describes - there's whole world under you, almost completely invisible. Basically it's like fear of the dark, albeit actually justified.

I also think it deals with how hope turns into dread into utter hopelessness, which is pretty horrific in its own right, especially when done at a slow pace.

(I will say this, though - those pre-sea scenes are indeed ridiculously awful..)


I think Moon could also make the list. The first half of that movie made me feel really lonely, watching Sam Rockwell putz about the space station on the Moon all by himself (or IS he all by himself?). Plus it qualifies as a thriller because of the second half.

It is a big space station though so it certainly wasn't THAT confined. But it wasn't like he could just up and leave either.

Your post led me down a rabbit hole of movies to some atrocious NC-17 straight-to-DVD flick called Train starring Thora Birch in 2008, which apparently set the record for the quantity of fake blood used in its production.


I kept going down and thinking "Oh yeah? Well what about [x] film, smart guy?" only for that to be the next film. Well played, sir. Well played.

I disagree on Open Water only because that film managed to set off my claustrophobia in an empty movie theater and left me crying and shaking through much of the film, but I haven't seen The Reef. The sharks are incidental to the greater sense of dread and despair that overwhelm the film.

If you want to continue on this theme, check out Altitude. It takes all of eight minutes to wind up inside a small airplane cabin and another ten to be completely surrounded by storm clouds for the rest of the film.


@Kim - Descent is indeed scary but in no way is it a single-setting film.


Would Black Water count? Or do the characters sometimes leaving the safety of their tree (although they never go far) invalidate it? If it does count, I really liked it. When I saw Open Water later on, the influence was pretty clear, but then, Black Water fixed all my problems with Open Water. It's prettily directed and edited, it wasn't boring, and it had a good cast and likable characters - I particularly love Lee, and from what I've seen her in so far, Maeve Dermody is fucking fantastic.

Actually, one of the guys who wrote and directed this one also did The Reef. Seems to be some sort of theme going on here.


Definitely an interesting idea for a post, great read! What about something like "The Beach" with Leo?



Rich, I watched The Ruins solely because of your original review and loved it!

I began watching Devil fully expecting to end the movie with a terror of elevators second only to Michael Caine in drag killing Angie Dickinson. It sucked.


Yes! The nerve-cutting! I can't even think of that movie, months after I've seen it, without squinting and cringing from that moment. Someone passed out in the theater, which is not so unusual for this film, or so I've heard.
Also, your gif made me sad, because I've met James Franco, and he's, tragically, not half as cute in person.

Vera S

CUBE, Rich! What about CUBE?


First, yes... CUBE!

Second, I've been led to believe that the difference b/t white sharks and bull sharks is: white sharks attack because they are curious. Bull sharks attack because they hate you.


Another great post Rich. Your blog can stand on its own, without the reality tv content (or at least, as much of it).

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It wasn't exactly horror though I remember some pretty gross parts of it.


If you enjoyed The Ruins on the screen you MUST read the book! It is a million times better. Yes. A million.

kate welsh

Good one at that. Keep it coming so we'll keep on reading.

kate newton

I never liked Amityville Horror. Argh!


Have you seen this movie Rich?

It's awesomely bad!!!!

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What about something like "The Beach" with Leo?

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