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Our ABCs of Claustrophobia as Locke Drives Into Cinemas


With the date closing in for the release of the compelling Locke, starring Tom Hardy we thought it fitting to take a look at films which take place in confined spaces.

Directed by Steven Knight, Locke takes place entirely in a car, a BMW to be precise. For some people just watching Mr. Hardy in a car for an hour and a half might be too much, but I’m sure for most of the female population this wouldn’t be too much of a problem. What makes the film so interesting is how they capitalise so well on the use of their single location. The car he is driving becomes a barrier, an open book and at one stage his only possession and home. Much like the films listed here, without the film’s stellar script, a film with just one location could obviously turn quite tedious. Although, it’s fascinating how good a film can actually turn out when such a technique is used appropriately.

First up is the iconic Phone Booth (2002). Probably the film that springs to mind when thinking of confined spaces. Joel Schumacher traps Stuart Shepard (Colin Farrell) in a phone booth (surprise, surprise) where he is threatened with his life if he doesn’t pay attention to the voice down the phone. The creativity of Phone Booth shan’t go unnoticed. Despite being in one location the camera work is deft and provides most of the action. With zooms and fast edits, alongside the booming soundtrack, everything is enhanced and makes up for the fact that this only has one location. Leading star, Farrell also adds to this and brings a very solid performance to this sleazy, cheating publicist, absolutely nailing his portayal of a man who pays for his sins. This is original, daring and, most importantly, entertaining – Just don’t make the mistake of answering a ringing pay phone!

Taking confined spaces to a whole other level now with Rodrigo CortesBuried (2010). Paul Conroy an American truck driver working in Iraq, finds himself in a rather deep situation. Waking up in pitch darkness with only his cigarette lighter and mobile phone for light, he quickly realises he is trapped inside a coffin. Not a situation which any of us would want to be in, but nevertheless it makes great viewing material. Ryan Reynolds’ performance was described as ground breaking and rightly so. Considering it was mainly his voice bouncing off the walls of the coffin throughout, Reynolds holds his own alongside Cortes’ near perfect decisions on set. The cinematography and most notably the lighting really stand out here, providing the look and feel of physically being in such a confined space as a coffin. Buried is a claustrophobic narrative full of suspense and definitely deserves to be on this list.

If being caught in a coffin wasn’t bad enough, next up is being held captive in the boot of a car – Brake (2012). Again, a rather limited space with agent Jeremy Reins (Stephen Dorff) finding himself kidnapped and used as a pawn in a terrorist plot. Much like Buried, the lighting, camera work and cinematography play pajor roles in polishing this film off.  Brake takes on a rather clever script and Gabe Torres brings this intriguing story alive. Yes, the comparisons between Buried and Brake are unavoidable but nevertheless a film that takes on a limited space and a great solo performance. Just beware of the predictable ending.

Released the same year as Phone Booth, Panic Room was yet another breathtaking film shot in an enclosed area. As a woman and her daughter are forced to take refuge in their new house’s safe room after three men break in the film takes a turn for the worst. David Fincher brings us a nail biting feature, with Jodie Foster bringing a phenomenal performance to our screens. Even though shot in one single room, instead of a coffin, a boot of a car or phone booth, Panic Room still embodies that very claustrophobic vibe that consumes you. If you haven’t seen this one, it is certainly worth a watch.

Going back in time for the next one, but it’s well worth it – German director Wolfgang Peterson’s Das Boot. You really can’t get any more claustrophobic than a World War II U-Boat.  Considering the time period this film is set in, this illustrates the fact that, despite everything going on, these submariners still manage to maintain a professional persona. This group of men get bored with the laborious life in this enclosed metal case, terror consumes them but duty is their number one priority. This isn’t a happy film but a very powerful one that will stay with you for years after you have watched it. The cramped space is interesting and beautiful to look at – not so sure it would be a ball spending time down there though!

So that’s our list which we hope gets you in the mood for Locke which is released in cinemas this 28th April. We’ll leave you with a trailer for the film.


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