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Five brilliant one location films


I have a thing for one location films. There’s something infinitely spellbinding about them and I’m always on the lookout for ones that I haven’t seen. It’s so fascinating to see what can be done with a story that is confined to four walls. Technically not all of these films are set in one location but they’re close enough.Rope
American thriller (1948)

Based on a play which in turn is based on a real murder. Two young men strangle their former classmate in their flat and hide his body in a large wooden chest. They want to prove to themselves that they have committed the perfect murder and therefore are superior, so they invite the victim’s friends and family to a dinner party. They use the wooden chest as a buffet table and this is where the fun begins. This first of Hitchcock’s Technicolor films takes place in real time and it appears as a single continuous shot through the use of clever editing and long takes. This is one of my all-time favourite Hitchock films. The film is mostly dialogue but it’s never boring. The performances by John Dall (as the fascistic villain) and James Stewart (as the voice of reason) are superb. I also highly recommend Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954) and his almost one location film Dial M For Murder (1954).The Party
American comedy (1968)

Peter Sellers plays an Indian actor who is supposed to be fired from a costume epic after making a huge mistake on set. A clerical mistake results in him being invited to an exclusive Hollywood party instead. Of course when he appears at the party everyone assumes that he must belong. He is completely incapable of being impolite but his natural curiosity repeatedly gets him into awkward situations. It’s obvious that a lot of the inspiration for this film comes from the works of the brilliant Jacques Tati. I can watch this hilarious film over and over. Peter Sellers is cringey but endearing and the set, wardrobe and music are all pure perfection.Wait Until Dark
American suspense thriller (1967)

A recently blinded housewife (played by Audrey Hepburn) is terrorised by a group of criminals who believe that she has hidden a doll that they used to smuggle heroin into the country with. As they search for the doll in her flat, they impersonate police officers and even her friends. Audrey Hepburn is wonderful as the vulnerable but independent woman and Alan Arkin is really quite creepy as the manipulative leader of the criminals. This is a clever film and everything in it fits together perfectly. Everything is connected. It’s a highly entertaining watch and it will make you jump.Compliance
American docudrama (2012)

As unbelievable as it is, this cringey film is based on true events. A prank caller who pretends to be a police officer convinces a fast food restaurant manager to interrogate an innocent young employee about a crime that she has allegedly committed. When the manager has to return to her job, she gets her fiancé in to follow instructions from the prank caller. This film is an interesting study of the human psyche and how people can readily be manipulated into doing things that they don’t want to do. It’s horrifying and infuriating yet you have to keep watching. Knowing that this actually happened makes it even more disturbing. The original footage of the incident is on YouTube if you fancy watching it.Lady in a Cage
American psychological thriller (1964)

Mrs. Hilyard is a wealthy poetess who lives in a big city mansion. One July 4th weekend while she is recovering from a hip operation, her lift stops due to an electrical fault with her trapped inside it. She rings her outside alarm but the only one who notices is a homeless man who breaks into the house. He doesn’t help her but instead starts stealing alcohol and other various items. He leaves but returns a while later with a prostitute and three teenage criminals who proceed to terrorise Mrs. Hilyard as they wreck her home. This is such a great film and it makes it even creepier that it’s set in daylight. Olivia de Havilland (who is fantastic alongside Bette Davis in Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte from 1964) is perfect as Mrs. Hilyard. She portrays a gradual descent into madness fantastically. It’s gripping and you don’t know how it’s going to end.BONUS: Carnage
French-German-Spanish-Polish black comedy (2011)

Based on a play and produced by the fantastic Roman Polanski who also co-wrote it. Two couples of parents meet for what starts as a civilised discussion about a fight between their eleven-year-old sons. As their time together progresses they start acting increasingly childish and chaos ensues. This is another film that is all dialogue and the focus is on the evolution of the characters. Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly are perfect as a bohemian, liberal couple. Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz are equally perfect as a casual power couple. This is a claustrophobic chamber piece which in some ways reminds me of Roman Polanski’s Repulsion (1965). Excellent performances by everyone involved.

How about you? Do you have any favourite one location films?

4 thoughts on “Five brilliant one location films

  1. I totally agree with you, films that are centered around one single room have a singular power, the actors have to be particularly good, they can’t hide behind any movement or scenery, it’s all about their faces and their voices (and the lines that they were given of course). I guess that’s why these films can have such intensity, they are so focused on what’s going on within the human mind and how it is expressed… I loved the rope! It was so, so good! I haven’t seen any of the others, they all sound really thrilling as well (I’m getting all of my books and films sources from you, you have such good taste!) I think 12 angry men would be in this list for me, I was amazed by the depth of the actors performances.

    • Yes yes! I love studying people’s faces and reading their body language so it makes sense to me to focus on the actors/actresses. I struggle with contemporary big budget Hollywood films that are all about special effects and being EPIC. Those films bore me. They come across as cold and impersonal to me. They make me feel downright horrible. I guess that I’m very emotionally driven. :)
      ‘Rope’ is fantastic! I might need to re-watch it tonight. I deliberately chose a few films that I thought that not everyone has seen. Oh I love ’12 Angry Men’! I should have put in on the list. ;) It’s a classic!

  2. Pingback: Five brilliant voyeuristic films | Chiaki Creates

  3. Pingback: 5 Contemporary Horror Films For Hallowe’en | The True Sea

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