Claustrophobia is a commonly used tool in a movie director's bag of tricks. Even when the plot doesn't specifically feature tight spaces, the walls of any room can be made to seem like they're pressing in on the film's characters. So when you actually have a plot that revolves around being locked in a wooden box six feet underground, things can get a little hairy, for both the character and the viewer. Buried has the guts to put Ryan Reynolds in a box for the majority of the film, and as such it may hold the claustrophobia crown, but here are some other movies we wouldn't recommend to those who prefer wide-open spaces.
Knowing that, at any moment, someone could dig down to you, or tear open a wall and save you can keep a trapped person sane. But watching the women in this movie wedge themselves through small, immovable stone openings, deep in the bowels of the earth, with man-eating monsters right behind them, is the worst kind of fear.
This newcomer shoots to near the top of the list by trapping five people in an elevator, then killing them one by one. So not only are these people trapped in a cell with an invisible killer, they're also surrounded by an increasing number of dead bodies, which makes the cell smaller, not to mention gamier.
The Shawshank Redemption
Andy Dufresne's time in prison would be claustrophobic enough, especially his stint in solitary confinement, but he then proceeds to make his escape through a tunnel barely big enough for him, then crawls through an equally narrow sewer pipe, full of rats and feces. It's kinda hard to watch.
If the kids in this movie hadn't been so tiny, they probably would have shared the fate of Chester Copperpot. As it is, the Goonies barely fit through all of the tunnels and passageways that lead to One-Eyed Willie's pirate ship, including a spike-festooned waterslide, and -- as a bonus -- Chunk gets locked in a freezer with a corpse. Ice cream does not make that a good situation.
Kill Bill, Vol. 2
She's not in there for the entire film, but Budd puts Beatrix Kiddo in a coffin with the intention of leaving her there, not counting on her uncanny ability to punch things only a few inches away. If we had Kiddo's upper body strength, our claustrophobia would fade pretty quickly.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Most of this installment in the swashbuckling adventure series takes place in the mines under an Indian palace. And they only get tighter when booby traps cause the ceiling to lower, or the walls are coated with insects.
The cube-shaped rooms in this futuristic prison aren't that small, but if you want to leave them, you have to crawl through a narrow tunnel, into a room that could be as safe as the one you left... or that could kill you. Feeling more confined yet?
Being John Malkovich
The low ceilings on the floor 7 1/2, where Craig works, establish the claustrophobia early on, but once he finds the tiny door that hides a tunnel into John Malkovich's head, people start spending a lot more time in there, and it's... cozy, to say the least. Even Craig and Lotte's apartment full of animals feel constrictive.
What's your favorite -- or least favorite -- claustrophobic movie? Let us know below!
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