Home invasion horror films announce their plot right up front—and you can be pretty sure of what you’re getting: strangers break into a home and terrorize the inhabitants, typically for no other reason than the sadistic pleasure of torturing and killing. There are some great films out there that hew closely to this plot, delivering a terror predicated on the sadism of the stalker/s and the inexplicability of their actions. Funny Games, both the US (2007) and original Austrian (1997) incarnations, directed by Michael Heneke, and the more recent Hush (2016), directed by Michael Flanagan, are noteworthy examples.
I’m interested, though, in films that change the home invasion narrative in order to suggest some sort of closer threat—a threat that breaks down, in one way or another, the line dividing inside and outside, us and them, home and beyond, friend/family member and stranger, even self and other. All of the films below do this in different but always thought-provoking ways. They ask us to consider who the “strangers” in our lives really are, where they are—and what they are capable of doing.
You’ll notice all the screenshots of windows below: windows loom large in all these films, serving to question the boundary line between inside and outside that they also erect, even if only falsely and fleetingly. There are also a lot of masks, although while some masks can clearly be seen, others can’t. Read more