Father Gore’s October Recommendations – Vol. 1: Home Invasions

These aren’t any kind of definitive greatest home invasion flicks, neither are they Father Gore’s personal top ten, either. These are 10 awesome movies, for one reason or another. And here’s to hoping some readers will find a few movies to enjoy over the Halloween season! Perfect time to get freaked out while home alone, or curled up with your partner as the lights are off and the sun goes down.


In Their Skin
(2012)

REPLICASAll home invasion movies are personal because they involve a literal infiltration of a house and personal space. In Their Skin goes beyond that, involving a family with enough issues already experiencing a home invasion, only to find their intruders want more than anything material— they want these peoples lives.
Although it isn’t graphic or shocking like certain other titles on this list, In Their Skin manages to unsettle via extremely tense, personal drama. It’s also due to the stellar performances of all involved. More psychological horror than most in the sub-genre.

Fear
(1996)

FearRecently, I wrote an article about this 1996 thriller, which ought to come with the label horror, as well. If you want to read the whole thing, it’s right here.
Fear is, on its face, a hyper conservative thriller preaching a ‘father knows best’ POV as the only threshold between safety and absolute danger, when it’s more an affirmation that patriarchal control of young women, from fathers to sketchy men trying to date their daughters, is never a good idea.

Funny Games
(1997)

Funny GamesMichael Haneke is one of Father Gore’s top director-writers. He might look like an average, ordinary, old white guy. Underneath he’s an inventive and horrific artist.
With Funny Games, Haneke set out to explore an audience’s relationship with violence in film. It goes so deep, to a point the director implicates his audience so directly in the ugly, violent actions of the story’s antagonists you almost start forgetting you’re watching a movie. Of course it’s a movie. Haneke keeps reminding us of that. But it’s easy to forget, as the terror becomes all too real, all too quick. Just as fast, it’s over, ready to begin again.

More here about Funny Games re: its relationship with Julia Kristeva’s ideas of the abject.

The Collector
(2009)

The CollectorFor something originally intended as a Saw prequel, The Collector works well enough in its own ways. The movie’s eponymous villain uses well engineered traps in order to dispatch victims, as well as to trap one living victim from every place he visits to carry forward to the next house. Easy to see how Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton originally intended this as a Jigsaw backstory.
I’m happy they were rejected— this movie’s lots of creepy fun! It’s got good atmosphere, a great score courtesy of Jerome Dillon, and a solid lead performance from underrated actor Josh Stewart. Its sequel, The Collection, is as good or better, though this one’s all home invasion. The way the Collector does his thing from house to house is part of what I personally find so upsetting, in the best kind of way.

Angst
(1983)

AngstThere’s nothing implicit about this 1983 shocker, based on the real crimes of Werner Kniesek who went on a brutal murder spree culminating in a home invasion at a large Austrian villa. Father Gore wrote an article for Scriptophobic in his Serial Killer Celluloid column, found here.
This isn’t for the faint of heart. The entire sequence in the villa is long, realistic, and utterly terrifying, complete with gore and a little vomit.
Seriously— be prepared!

Hellions
(2015)

HellionsEverything about Bruce McDonald making a psychedelic horror about a girl discovering she’s pregnant around Halloween only to face a group of masked children trying to break into her home is FUCKING FANTASTIC!
Hellions has a ton of interesting imagery, particularly shots like the one above. McDonald achieved these pinkish scenes with an infrared filter on the lens, giving them a weird and surreal atmosphere. His movies are always fun to me, not just because he’s a fellow Canadian. He’s got a sixth sense for compelling, weird tales, no matter if it’s drama, horror, or mockumentary.

Sleep Tight
(2011)

Sleep TightHome invasions are bad enough when they come from outside the actual home. In modern day, with so many people living in apartment buildings, a sense of safety’s diminished. A home invasion can actually get more frightening when a person’s home/life is manipulated by somebody meant to look after the building/their safety.
Jaume Balagueró’s Sleep Tight does its job well by going for the psychological touch rather than corporeal violence. Certainly there’s danger— the story’s protagonist Clara (Marta Etura) experiences physical threat. Somehow it’s the psychological aspect of her torture by concierge César (Luis Tosar) that’s most unnerving.
Watch. Let the tension wash over you. Meanwhile, if you’ve got a doorman or a building handyman, let’s hope your landlord/superintendent does solid background checks.

Ils
(2006)

IlsThe European horror-thriller Ils is one hell of a tense package. It’s the same premise we’ve seen over and over again, yet directing-writing team David Moreau and Xavier Palud manage to craft this story into a nail biter. The large country house into which the protagonists – a husband and wife – move is utilised to its best potential.
What’s most upsetting is the couple have just moved in, immediately thrust into a situation where their sense of home’s subverted, when it’s already been subverted on their move, and they’re left in totally unfamiliar territory, just as much as those invading their house. All the more awful when you find out who exactly are attacking the couple.
Yikes!

Kidnapped
(2010)

KidnappedProbably why Kidnapped is so effective is because it’s real, angry, and real raw. The whole thing’s tough and violent. Not much nuance. All the same, the movie feels like it’s torn right out of a newspaper, so it’s easy to read social commentary into the plot. The basics are good enough, and this will really upset those who live alone. More likely to bring terror to the bourgeois class, who are the victims in this brutal home invasion tale.

Kristy
(2014)

KristyKristy came out of nowhere for Father Gore. What sells this one is its location, putting a young woman virtually alone on a college campus over vacation while everybody else is gone home. With all that open and enclosed space alike, the campus is a sprawling landscape across which the invaders chase and terrorise their target relentlessly. Scarier still, the reason for the terror, though not an original plot device, is a nasty cherry on top of the entire deal and classifies this as what I’d call Marxist horror.
A great lead performance from Haley Bennett and a spooky character played by Ashley Greene really help sell the dramatic portions of the story. Also, if you’re a student, a professor, or just anybody who doesn’t like vast empty spaces where masked killers might be lurking, Kristy will definitely run a chill up your spine.

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