17 Underrated Home Invasion Movies That Remind Us To Lock The Front Door
"Because you were home."
It's the chilling motive given behind the actions of the eponymous home invaders in The Strangers, and it showcases what makes the home invasion subgenre such an effectively unsettling one. Our homes are where we're supposed to be safe. When someone forces their way in, they're not just holding us hostage - they are violating us in a very real, intimate, and personal way, just by being there.
While home invasion has been a popular motif in horror films of the 21st century, finding expression in such mainstays of the form as the aforementioned The Strangers or 2007's Funny Games - itself a remake of the 1997 Austrian film of the same name - the home invasion subgenre has been with us for as long as movies have been made. There are examples of home invasions on film dating back to the days of silent cinema, and the idea of criminals or other assailants threatening us in our own homes has continued to resonate into the present day.
The following list offers underrated examples - from forgotten classics to modern pulse-pounders - that remind us why we should lock our doors.
- 170 VOTESPhoto: Netflix
In a twist on the formula established by the Audrey Hepburn classic Wait Until Dark, Mike Flanagan's Hush follows a deaf horror author as she is menaced by a masked assailant. Flanagan was already a rising star when he made the small, intimate slasher, but his fame has continued growing in the years since, and he has worked with Netflix on a number of prestige projects, including the Haunting of Hill House series.
Hush is less ambitious than many of Flanagan's other projects, but it spends that excess energy putting the screws both to its protagonist and to the audience, reaching a satisfying crescendo as the victim turns the tables on her attacker.
- 282 VOTESPhoto: Sony Pictures Releasing
In a twist on the formula of the 1967 classic Wait Until Dark, three home invaders break into the wrong blind man's house in Fede Alvarez's 2016 follow-up to his 2013 remake of Evil Dead. A home invasion movie in which the invaders are the protagonists, they bite off more than they can chew when they try to abscond with $300,000 in cash from the home of a blind Gulf War vet played by Stephen Lang, whose home contains a horrifying secret. Plunging the house into darkness, the menacing blind man hunts the invaders down and picks them off, one by one.
This was not the first time the home invasion formula had been challenged - Wes Craven's 1991 flick The People Under the Stairs uses a similar premise to very different ends - but Don't Breathe was a hit with audiences, spawning a 2021 sequel that flips the script yet again.
- 349 VOTESPhoto: Lionsgate
Before Adam Wingard directed blockbusters like Godzilla vs. Kong, he and screenwriter Simon Barrett made a huge splash in the horror scene with 2011's You're Next, a home invasion thriller that was filmed for around a million bucks and made more than 20 times that at the box office.
It's no wonder, as the stylish and brutal film keeps viewers on their toes with twists and reveals. What starts out as a simple home invasion - as Erin and her boyfriend attend his family reunion, only to find the house assaulted by outsiders - quickly turns into something else as new revelations come to light, both about Erin's background and the assailants' motives.
- 452 VOTESPhoto: Universal Pictures
Once filmmakers established the format of the home invasion subgenre, subversions and inversions began. Few films have ever subverted the home invasion template more than Wes Craven's sociopolitical horror flick from 1991, The People Under the Stairs.
Taking aim at subjects like landlords, gentrification, race relations, and a whole lot more, The People Under the Stairs follows the exploits of a young boy who, with some older criminals, breaks into the home of the wealthy couple who are about to evict him and his family.
What they find on the other side is a terrifying, looking-glass world of kidnapped children and deranged adults, hidden behind a mask of middle-class respectability.
- 531 VOTES
Remade in 2011, the 1971 original - directed by Sam Peckinpah and starring Dustin Hoffman and Susan George - is the place to go for one of the most classic home invasion thrillers of yesteryear. More than a movie about home invaders, it's a meditation on a wide variety of themes, from academia to violence, from masculinity to territorialism to the meaning of home. When a meek mathematician (Hoffman) moves with his wife back to her Cornish hometown, they quickly become embroiled with the locals, including her ex and his cronies.
The death of a local girl escalates the violence, however, as Hoffman and George protect the man who accidentally killed her from a lynch mob. Its climax is grisly and grueling, and the ending is far from a Hollywood happily-ever-after.
- 639 VOTESPhoto: Well Go USA
Home Alone took the home invasion formula and transformed it into a family-friendly holiday comedy. Better Watch Out, released in 2016, aimed to change it back. A babysitter and her precocious 12-year-old charge are menaced by an apparent home invader in the run-up to the Christmas holidays, but something more sinister is going on, as is revealed when the protagonist finds herself bound and at the mercy of her sadistic captors.
The film even contains nods to Home Alone, including its grisliest scene, which depicts what would "really happen" if someone was hit in the head with a swinging paint can, as the burglars memorably were in the 1990 holiday classic.