The utilization of agoraphobic individuals in films like The Invisible Man and Copycat creates a dreadful mood.
Warning: This essay discusses agoraphobia and depicts violence, so please read at your own risk.
A common theme in films about agoraphobia is a desire to feel safe and secure in one’s own home. Amy Adams portrays a recluse writer who is drawn into the stunning and brutal drama taking place among her new neighbors across the street in Joe Wright’sThe Woman in the Window, a contemporary example.
At their best, these films compel their viewers to picture the terror that can come from a preoccupation with a restricted location and from having that comfort zone undermined by outside forces that are beyond the control of the characters themselves.
1. The Invisible Man (2020)
Elisabeth Moss gives one of her best performances as Cecilia Kass, a woman who becomes scared of leaving her house after escaping the clutches of her abusive partner, wealthy inventor Adrian Griffin, in the latest adaptation of H.G. Wells’ famous sci-fi novel The Invisible Man. After learning that Griffin is torturing her, gaslighting her, and even framing her for murder using invisibility technology, her suspicions become true to her.
An agoraphobic protagonist is a fantastic match for an invisibile antagonist. When her most irrational worries are realized in a way that no one else can see, the film becomes both a horrific nightmare and a poignant allegory for emotional abuse because of the fear of an unseen enemy lurking in the shadows.
2. We Have Always Lived In The Castle (2018)
Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle is based on the novel of the same name and follows two sisters, Constance and Merricat, who live with their uncle on the family estate. As Merricat’s sympathetic magic purportedly protects their private home life, the arrival of their handsome cousin Charles, who engages in a violent conflict with Merricat while attempting to woo Constance out of the house, upends everything.
By blurring the barriers between illusion and reality, this underappreciated thriller conveys the agoraphobic worldview of its protagonists. A Frankenstein-esque angry crowd to the very real possibility that they could lose their independence are some of the implications of their space being infiltrated by Merricat’s magical protection.
3. The Falling (2014)
Florence Pugh made her acting debut in The Fallingas Abbie, a 1960s English schoolgirl who becomes the first victim of a mystery fainting ailment. A complicated web of dysfunctional relationships surrounds her, including a supernaturally inclined brother and an agoraphobic mother who works as a hairdresser.
The film’s 102 minutes are filled with terrible details of death, abuse, incest, and other painful occurrences, yet the film’s nuanced approach to connections between women and mass psychogenic sickness is constantly there. While agoraphobia isn’t the show’s primary focus, it’s one of the numerous components that make this show so fascinating and eerie.
4. Shirley (2020)
Elisabeth Moss portrays Shirley Jackson in Shirley, a film that pairs well with We Have Always Lived in the Castle. The film follows a newlywed couple who become caught in the convoluted intrigues of Jackson and her husband, Stanley Hyman, while telling a mainly fictional account of her life while she penned her 1951 novelHangsaman (Michael Stuhlbarg).
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfpsychosexual ?’s tension It’s an engrossingly unpredictable film full of seething rage that has the eerie mood of a Peter Jackson movie. Shirley, while being an agoraphobe, has a cool, malicious energy, which contrasts with Cecilia’s spinning in The Invisible Man.
5. Copycat (1995)
Serial killer crime film Copycat, with Sigourney Weaver as Dr. Helen Hudson, was inspired by the post-Silence of the Lambs trend and stars Weaver as Dr. Helen Hudson after she is attacked by one of her previous customers. When she becomes involved in the case of a “copycat” killer who copies the habits of past notable murders like Jeffrey Dahmer, she finds herself lured into the investigation.
When someone who wrote the book on serial killers gets attacked, it makes for an interesting idea for a movie like Copycat, and Weaver does an outstanding job playing agoraphobic Dr. Hudson, with Holly Hunter, the main detective, also doing an excellent job. As Helen is confined to her San Francisco apartment due to her illness, the production design of the film is a triumph.
6. Intruders (2015)
An agoraphobic woman (Beth Riesgraf) is attacked by thieves after handing a huge quantity of money to a kind Meals on Wheels worker (also known as “Shut In” or “Deadly Home”) in this low-budget horror film, which is also known as “Shut In” or “Deadly Home.” A Saw-like twist is added to a typical home invasion thriller when Anna grabs the reins.
No matter how ridiculous the film’s twisting second half gets, it’s a scary movie with a good cast, including Rory Culkin and Martin Starr, that makes the most of its 90-minute running time. It helps that Riesgraf is a compelling lead, and the film’s gloomy graphics provide the proper mood for the film’s horrific terror.
7. The Wolf Hour (2019)
It’s not just a garnish for the horrors in some of these films: The Wolf Hour focuses on Naomi Watts’s agoraphobia as she loses her grasp on reality during the Summer of Sam in her New York apartment. Due in part to her perceived threat being invisible and the turbulent real-world backdrop, the growing dread of this picture reaches fever pitch.
The movie had a mixed reception on Rotten Tomatoes, but its introspective nature and the subtle performance by Naomi Watts make it an especially poignant portrayal for people who have struggled with agoraphobia themselves. Rather than sensationalizing her character’s anxiety, Watts helps the audience identify with it on a more personal level.
8. The Nesting (1981)
Because of its graphic violence and explicit sexual content, this classic slasher was seized during the ’80s video nasty panic in the United Kingdom. While staying in an old home, an agoraphobic writer experiences weird happenings that make her want to kill. Eventually, she discovers that the house was formerly a brothel and that the spirits of the sex workers who were murdered there are still with her.
Though it may be slow-paced and horrific, the haunted Armour–Stiner House in New York City provides a spine-tingling backdrop for The Nesting. People who like horror movies set in haunted houses in the ’80s will like this one for its evocative imagery and scary conclusion.
9. The Lodgers (2017)
It’s a historical Gothic film about a pair of siblings who spend their days cooped up in their family’s old mansion, much like We Have Always Lived in the Castle. The twins are effectively chained to the house by a malevolent ghostly presence (the Lodgers) until a damaged soldier (Eugene Simon) commits himself to helping them escape.
Its haunted house subgenre is crowded enough as it is, but this picture stands out from the crowd because its spirits emerge early and often, making the film’s 92-minute length seem fast despite the creepy mood it creates.
10. The Last Days (2013)
If you’re looking for something a little more horrifying than your average sci-fi thriller, you’ll find it here.
For those who suffer from serious agoraphobia, being forced to leave their safe haven might result in death. This is the focus of The Last Days. To recover his missing girlfriend, protagonist Marc (Quim Gutiérrez) starts out without ever leaving the house.
COVID-19’s pandemic has made what was previously an unlikely premise appear nearly prescient. The idea of a post-apocalyptic movie whose hero must avoid stepping outside at all costs sounds perfect and particularly frightening at the moment. Via addition to that, it’s a compelling premise that allows for twists and turns as the epidemic’s actuality is exposed in flashback. “