There are few types of horror film more simple, yet more scary, than the home invasion movie. It’s a sub-genre that uses an incredibly straightforward premise and yet taps into the most primal fear for so many of us. The idea of very bad people entering our homes with the intent of doing very bad things to us is one that horror filmmakers have returned to again and again over the years, and no matter how many times we see a similar story play out, it continues to be an incredibly potent viewing experience.
On a purely practical level, it’s easy to see why writers and directors are so drawn to these films. In its most basic form, all that is really needed are two characters and one location–a home, its owner, and an invader. It’s quick and cheap to make, and let’s face it, the economics of the horror genre are what has made it such an attractive arena for so many cash-strapped filmmakers over the decades.
But while there are many terrible home invasion movies that offer little more than this set-up, it’s this very simplicity that also makes it so effective. This is the one sub-genre that can actually be even more effective when watched at home than in a theater, the claustrophobia of that single, enclosed setting creating some incredibly effective and terrifying movies.
Of course, not all films that use home invasion are as simplistic as that. Some use it as part of a wider story rather than the entire focus, building up to home invasion scenes or using them to develop the plot or characters. Others take the conventions and put their own spin on them, throwing in gimmicks and twists to keep audiences guessing.
But in all cases, the scares ultimately come from the same, terrifying place: In short, as long as people have homes, we’ll be watching them get invaded on screen. So here are some of the most tense, shocking, and terrifying home invasion movies ever made. Just make sure the front door is locked before you start reading…