5 of the Most Claustrophobic Films

 Posted by on March 17, 2016  Features
Mar 172016


10 Cloverfield Lane takes place inside a bunker, sheltering the inmates from the supposed horrors that exist outside. Spending all that time in such a small space can get on anyone’s nerves (even if you do get to play fun board games with John Goodman), but there are other film characters that have had it much worse. So if you thought your commute was a little stuffy this morning, these five claustrophobic films will make you think again!

127 Hours (2010)

127 Hours takes place almost entirely in a small canyon. Aron Ralston (James Franco) is a mountaineer and adventurer who, while exploring Canyonlands National Park Utah, falls down a slot canyon and is trapped by a boulder falling on his arm. He spends the rest of the film recording a video diary, having flashbacks of his life, and trying to escape.

Best of all, it’s all true! The movie is based on the memoir of real life canyoneer Aron Ralston, Between a Rock and a Hard Place (2004). Ralston had bigger, gorier problems than feeling claustrophobic though and was forced to endure the most horrific circumstances trapped in the tiniest of places with only his discouragement and fear for company.

Panic Room (2002)

Panic room sees its two leads, Meg Altman (Jodie Foster) and her 11 year old daughter Sarah (Kristen Stewart) trapped in, you guessed it, a panic room, as they try to escape the intruders who break into their house seeking valuables in the panic room safe. It’s only when Meg suffers a seizure and needs medication that Sarah suddenly needs to get out of the panic room. Suddenly the roles are reversed and it’s Meg, now armed and dangerous, trying to get into the panic room to save her daughter, while the criminals try to keep her out, using Sarah as a hostage to try and secure their escape.

You’d think they wouldn’t have had much to fear in a panic room. In the beginning of the film when they are shown the house, the estate agent refers to the panic room as similar to a castle keep. What’s scary though is how quickly the siege mentality sets in. With the intruders trying to smoke them out, filling the room with gas, and then needing the medicine outside, the safe haven suddenly became a trap. I bet in that situation the room would suddenly feel a lot smaller.

Cube (1997)

Cube is a Sci-Fi horror that sees its characters trapped in a series of pyramids. Just kidding, its cubes, they trap them in cubes. Each cube has 6 hatches, one on each side, which connect to another cube. The trick is, some of the cubes are booby trapped, based on a series of numbers written at the entrance to each cube, and with the number of cubes being seemingly endless, the protagonists appear to be trapped. The film follows six people as they try to escape the cubes, but as they start to fall victim to the traps and grow increasingly desperate they turn on each other, and soon enough the traps aren’t the only thing killing them off.

With the tag line ‘fear, paranoia, suspicion, desperation’ you can guess the psychological aspect is a big part of the film. Whilst the impending threats of the traps don’t help the victims’ mental state, the exasperation of feeling like they can’t escape is what makes them turn against each other. So really the claustrophobia did as good a job of finishing them off. Still going to blame the death cubes though.

Phone Booth (2002)

Stu is a hot shot New York publicist who has been living a deceitful life, among other things, courting a woman behind his wife’s back. That is until he answers a call in a phone booth from a hidden sniper who threatens to kill him if he leaves the phone booth, and if he doesn’t change his ways. The rest of the film takes place entirely in the phone box as Stu talks to the gunman and tries to bargain for his life.

The movie is set contemporarily in the age of mobile phones, so the use of a phone booth as the central plot piece is an interesting choice. Being confined to a small space, unable to escape the phone box just as much as he is unable to escape his fate, puts extra pressure on Stu. Where usually he would bluff his way out, being forced to stay put and confront his deceitful lifestyle is not only physically claustrophobic but emotionally claustrophobic as well.

Buried (2010)

Buried features Ryan Reynolds trapped inside a coffin 6 feet underground for the entire film. It follows the story of Paul Conroy (Reynolds), who while working as a truck driver in Afghanistan is ambushed by terrorists and wakes up inside the coffin. Luckily he has his phone with him, but unluckily his kidnappers use it to demand ransom money. Paul calls the State Department for assistance, but instead they bomb an area near him causing his coffin to start taking on the sand above. Will they get to him before his coffin fills with sand?

For any claustrophobe this is literally their worst nightmare. I mean it doesn’t get much smaller than a coffin, which is literally built to just house your body, and with the impending threat of suffocating to death. Just thinking about it makes me want to run outside and stare at the sky.

So in comparison the residents of 10 Cloverfield Lane seem to have a pretty good deal, but don’t take my word for it, go see for yourself.

10 Cloverfield Lane is in UK cinemas 18th March 2016.


BatWhilst I love prosthetic effects, stop-motion animation and gore, nothing can beat a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. I don't do 3D movies so put the red and green spex away!

  2 Responses to “5 of the Most Claustrophobic Films”

  1. La Cabina (The Phone Box 1972)
    Saw it years and years ago, lasted in my memory… Funny and claustrophobic, 35 mins long Spanish, brilliant. It’s on You Tube and here’s link

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>