Is there any short cut to an effective horror more successful
than limiting the locations of your story?
Think about it—how successful would Jason
Voorhees’ murder sprees be in scaring us if the doomed teen cast could simply
up and leave the deserted summer camp, or cramped cruise ship, or (groan) spaceship
at any time? There’s nothing less scary than a slasher stuck in the big city,
as Jason Takes Manhattan regrettably proved, and horror loses its impact if our characters can easily just stroll out of whatever predicament they are in
and outpace the threat currently attempting to kill them.
The lone location horror is an institution in the genre,
with even early literary classics such as Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw
and Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House deriving much of their
effectiveness from the claustrophobic fear of being trapped in a remote,
byzantine old estate with some unseen ghosts (or, you know, a crazy governess, depending on how you read the former).
With that in mind, we’ve collected a shortlist of some
of the horror genre’s most effective one-location nerve shredders, borrowing from
the world of sci-fi and psychological thrillers to find the most intense examples of intense, one-setting thrill rides.