: Ryan Reynolds is buried. That's pretty much it. Okay, there's a little more to it than that: his Iraq war contractor wakes up to find himself six-feet under in a small coffin with only a mobile phone, a lighter and a torch for company.
For filmmakers, the movie set entirely in one location is the ultimate challenge; the appeal of films like Buried isn't the characters or even the story, but exactly how such a simple premise can be spun out to feature length.
They're dubbed 'claustrocore' movies, and there are an increasingly large number of similar, 'Holy crap we're trapped in a blank'-type films on the horizon, we've recently had Devil set in a lift, and then there's Frozen set on a stairlift coming soon, but this is not a new trend by any means.
So, as Reynolds begins scrabbling his way to freedom and hopes he won't end up as worm food, we've rounded up the ten greatest movies – in no particular order – set mainly in one location only. We'll allow a couple of establishing shots here and there, but these characters are going nowhere for now... Continues
PHONE BOOTH (2002)
Director Joel Schumacher put a phone booth to novel use in his 2002 thriller; not as a place to make/receive calls, but as the setting for a high-concept, white-knuckle stand-off. The hook is killer in more ways than one: if Colin Farrell's sleazy city boy hangs up on Kiefer Sutherland's demented caller, he'll be shot. If he leaves the booth, he'll be shot. If he calls the police... you guessed it. Bang. Larry Cohen's script second-guesses every question you have, keeping you as rooted to your seat as Farrell is to his receiver. It's just as well people only use phone booths as toilets nowadays.
PANIC ROOM (2002)
Unsurprisingly set in a hi-tech panic room (if there wasn't a room and at least a little panic, we'd be on the phone to Trading Standards), this is David Fincher flexing his muscles: he didn't need to make this movie, but wanted to show he could anyway. Jodie Foster and a young Kristen Stewart are the mother and daughter holed up in an expensive, oversized coffin, while Forest Whitaker and his cronies attempt to infiltrate the impenetrable. Fincher, meanwhile, swings his camera up and down stairs, in and out of air vents, and at one point, through the handle of a coffee pot for absolutely no reason. Pfft. Show off.
REAR WINDOW (1954)
It's probably the greatest thriller ever made; not only is Rear Window a stone-cold cinematic masterpiece (there's a reason it's taught in every film class), but it's testament to Alfred Hitchcock's absolute mastery of storytelling. As James Stewart's shut-in invalid spies on a neighbour he suspects of murder from his bedroom window, it's telling that, at first, you almost don't even notice that 99% of the movie is shot from the single point-of-view, purely because the set-up is so taut. It goes to show: sometimes you don't need bells and whistles – often the simplest ideas are the best.
He wasn't even supposed to be there that day, but he stayed there nonetheless. Aside from a brief glimpse of Dante's bedroom and one shot of him and Randal in a car on the way to a funeral (spoiler: it ends badly), Clerks is all shot in, outside of, or on the roof of the New Jersey Quick-Stop. In truth, Kevin Smith never set out to make a one-location doozy, but a day job in a convenience store that let him shoot nights plus ten maxed credit cards meant he didn't have the time or money to shoot anywhere else. The result was an over-the-counter-culture classic, and a stark reminder: just because they serve you, doesn't mean they like you.
12 ANGRY MEN (1957)
Relying on powerful performances and thick swathes of heavy dialogue, a movie as verbose as 12 Angry Men would never be made today (unless the defendant was a giant angry robot being tried for punching a hole in Spain). Set solely in the jury room of a courtroom, with 12 jurors tasked with reaching a verdict on a murder case, there are no frills or distractions from the matter at hand – and nowhere for poor writing to hide. As Henry Fonda and his fellow jurors engage in an utterly beguiling dissection of the case, the screenplay takes you up, down and ties you in knots without ever leaving the same four walls – because really, why would you want to be anywhere else?