5 Essential Home Invasion Films – Knock Before Entering

Home is where we let our guard down. There is nothing quite as terrifying as to have our safe sanctuary intruded upon. It is thus no surprise really, why filmmakers so often spatter blood right on the porch of the most homely apartment that echoes our own.

In this post, I name some of the best in the genre. So, if you liked Don’t Breathe, you may enjoy these five home invasion thrillers.

5. The Strangers (dir. Bryan Bertino, 2008)

Three strangers terrorise a young couple in their isolated vacation home. Based on a simple premise, The Strangers claims true events as its inspiration. While easily dismissed as gimmicky, the label works. It proffers a striking reminder of just how prevalent violent crimes can be behind closed doors.

The killers don painted masks, but their creepy disguise never elicits as much terror as their absence of motive or remorse. In the chilling words of The Strangers, the assailants reveal their haunting reason – or lack thereof, “Because you were home.”

Wait Until Dark

4. Wait Until Dark (dir. Terence Young, 1967)

Like Don’t Breathe, Wait Until Dark centres on a blind character, who is forced to confront thugs in her home. Audrey Hepburn plays the vulnerable victim, facing an intimidating adversary in Alan Arkin. But she is nowhere near helpless. Killing the lights for an upper edge, she is not letting the intruder leave without a fight.

Another masterclass in suspense, the remarkable thriller keeps one constantly on the edge. The old classic makes its mark and still resonates in modern movies like Hush.

The Last House On The Left

3. The Last House On The Left (dir. Wes Craven, 1972 / dir. Dennis Iliadis, 2009)

A vicious lowlife gang gets what’s coming in the vengeance-driven The Last House on the Left. As with People Under the Stairs, director Wes Craven plays with the audience’s expectations in his brilliant earlier effort. Past half-mark, the cycle of brutal violence takes a satisfying turn and exchanges the victim-perpetrator roles with ease.

The graphic exploitation horror makes for gruesome viewing, intense in its entirety and certainly not for the weak-hearted. While remakes seldom are on par with the original, director Dennis Iliadis did a tremendous job with his excellent re-imagining.


2. À l’intérieur / Inside (dir. Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury, 2007)

A mysterious woman arrives at a pregnant widow’s doorstep, unveiling her intent to steal the latter’s unborn child. Part of the New French Extremity, Inside elicits genuine visceral fear through shocking savagery and excessive violence. The bloody assault on motherhood effectively conjures a woman’s deepest fears, most disturbing in its unprovoked nature.

The unflinching delve into human suffering leaves a crawling sensation long after the harrowing finale. While gore may exceed plot, lurking shadows left behind will no doubt amplify every little sound at your very own doorstep in the night.

Funny Games

1. Funny Games (dir. Michael Haneke, 1997)

Two young men’s sadism soon turns horror entertainment into a fourth-wall nightmare. Perturbing chaos finds a perfect complement in its opening, set to the hellish grinding sounds of Naked City’s Bonehead. Unlike usual horror thrillers, Funny Games is a critique on the brutality it portrays. Austrian Director Michael Haneke forces a rare, incisive look at gratuitous cinematic violence.

Often misunderstood, the oddly compelling movie displays ingenuity in its self-aware reflection of violence in media, victimising its off-screen viewers as much as its on-screen family. Tearing off the wall between fiction and reality, Haneke artfully draws us in and invites our unwilling complicity in his cold, sadistic games.

Find anything missing from the list? Share your favourite home invasion titles in the comments below.

6 thoughts on “5 Essential Home Invasion Films – Knock Before Entering”

    1. That’s a great one! Straw Dogs deserves a spot for sure. The violence makes it hard to watch, but its effective terror definitely leaves a lasting impression. Thanks much for leaving your thoughts. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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