Getting Stuck in Terrible Places

Dylan Minnette and Stephen Lang in Don’t Breathe

There’s nothing better than watching a movie where people somehow get themselves stuck in the worst situations. In the midst of hundreds of terrible movie decisions, we have this subgenre of horror where the movie is about characters trying to escape a terrible place. Niche but effective at targeting our biggest fears. Here are the ones we recommend:

As Above, So Below (2014)

Perdita Weeks and Ben Feldman in As Above, So Below

Set beneath the streets of Paris, As Above, So Below follows a team of explorers as they venture into the catacombs to film a documentary. It’s a take on found footage that doesn’t make you dizzy, it just makes you disturbed and raises your blood pressure—no big! What seems to be a typical Indiana Jones-esque adventure turns into a journey into hell, literally. Honorable mentions to other stuck-in-a-cave films, The Descent (2005) and Thirteen Lives (2022).

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Rei Hance in The Blair Witch Project

The slow-burn technical feat and a seminal horror gem, The Blair Witch Project, surrounds three high school students who interview local residents about the Blair Witch—a town myth—and set off into the woods to shoot some scenes for their documentary. Surprise surprise, it wasn’t a myth after all! The audience’s expectations are subverted as the trio get lost, engage in heated arguments, trek for hours, hear inexplicable noises, and discover strange objects as they try to escape the horrors of the woods. Not a situation I’d want to be in.

The Shallows (2016)

Blake Lively in The Shallows

This list wouldn’t be complete without the movies born out of the fear that came from watching Jaws. The Shallows follows a surfer who is (conveniently) on a deserted beach when she comes across the feeding ground of a great white shark far from shore. Watching 90 minutes of Blake Lively fighting for her survival against a CGI shark will have you second guessing going to the beach. Honorable mention to another take on the shark attack film, 47 Meters Down.

Snowpiercer (2013)

Chris Evans and Jamie Bell in Snowpiercer

This action-packed drama is a bit different from the other films on this list. In this dystopian world, a failed global-warming experiment kills off most life on the planet, leaving only the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe via a perpetual-motion engine holding the only survivors on Earth. After the train develops a class system divided between rich and poor, the lower class decides to rebel and escape the train. We’re taken on a wild ride along with the characters as they discover the distinct conditions the rich live in and who’s at the head of it all. 

Don’t Breathe (2016)

Stephen Lang  in Don’t Breathe

Don’t Breathe holds, debatably, one of the dumbest horror movie decisions as three teens decide to rob a blind man, deeming him an easy target. Turns out he’s an army veteran, has a lethal attack dog, and holds things in his basement that I still don’t like to think about. It’s a cat and mouse game that makes you question who to root for. Think Home Alone but way darker and dumber—if the latter is even a possibility. Take the title seriously, this movie will have you locked in a state of terror.

Carla RubioCarla Rubio is an English major on the Writing and Rhetoric track with intentions of going to law school. Film studies to her is something to look forward to in the midst of all the essays and cases and research papers.