The Purge, The Strangers, Hush, You're Next - the best home invasion movies tap directly into our most primal domestic fears, those nagging worries that wake us in the middle of the night, drenched in a cold sweat.
What was that noise? Did I leave the front door unlocked? Did I set the security alarm?Who is the sketchy lady on my doorstep asking to use the phone at 1 am? Who is that strange man in the rabbit mask outside my window? And, seriously, what is the deal with that crossbow?
A good, scary home invasion flick asks all of these questions. The best of them withhold answers for as long as possible, drawing out the suspense. Most of them have a high body count, though they're not always the bodies you'd expect.
The movies on this list take our home invasion nightmares to a whole new level. Unlock the deadbolt at your own risk...
Nothing ruins a good marriage proposal like creepy masked intruders.
Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman play the not-so-happy couple vacationing in the country after a friend's wedding reception. A strange woman shows up to the house asking for "Tamara," who does not live there. Things get weirder when she's joined by two masked companions with unidentified motives for making this couple's life a living hell.
Reportedly based on a true story, The Strangers was among the first in a recent wave of home invasion thrillers to feature eerily masked killers with little back story but well-equipped with unconventional weapons.
#1467 on The Most Rewatchable Movies
#21 on The Best Slasher Moviessee more on The Strangers
The Last House on the Left (1972 & 2009)
Despite the "house" in its title, most of the violence in Wes Craven's shocking Manson-era slasher flick takes place in the woods. In its later scenes, the terror moves indoors, however, as a band of hippie killers invite themselves into the home of the parents whose teen daughter they murdered. Before long, the hunters become the prey.
A 2009 remake featuring Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul heavily emphasized the revenge elements of the original, flipping Last House for the modern age.
One of the more recent B&E chillers to utilize a masked murderer with a crossbow and no obvious motive for terrorizing his victims is 2016's Hush. The difference here is the film's protagonist, Maddie, a deaf author living in the countryside, who can't hear her attacker coming.
The creative soundtrack, often muted from Maddie's perspective, only adds to the suspense. We see and hear things before she does. Still, resourceful Maddie is no victim, as the above trailer demonstrates.
In most movie home invasions, we see the murder and mayhem from the victim's point of view. But in the 1971 cult classic A Clockwork Orange, director Stanley Kubrick forces the audience to ride shotgun with his ultraviolent band of delinquent Droogs as they gleefully rape and pillage their way across a futuristic English countryside brutalizing homeowners to the sound of Gene Kelly show tunes.
Playing wing man to the sadistic Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell) is not for the feint of heart. In this clip, where Alex's weapon of choice is a large erotic sculpture, it's also NSFW.
Also Rankedsee more on A Clockwork Orange
No scary movie list would be complete without an appearance (in signature silhouette) by the original Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. While not a top-to-bottom home invasion movie like You're Next, Dial M for Murder does feature one of the earliest instances of chilling domestic intrusion in movie history - a scene in which Grace Kelly is attacked by a shadowy burglar while she's on the phone.
This film would set a precedent for many home invasion flicks to follow in its use of the phone as a primary weapon against intruders (Scream, anyone?). Also, its early use of 3D.
#147 on The Best Crime Movies
#509 on The Most Rewatchable Moviessee more on Dial M for Murder
The Purge (2013)
The first film in the successful Purge franchise throws a clever twist at the home invasion movie genre: its homeowners (Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey) know ahead of time that an attack is coming. They can prepare for it and fortify their home. Husband James even happens to be a security expert.
But, on Purge Night, anything goes. Fortified exterior or not, a brutal assault may still come from within. Terror doesn't always announce itself on the front door security camera, as in the above clip.
Don't Breathe (2016)
As of this writing, Don't Breathe hasn't been released in theaters. But the intriguing trailer promises an interesting new spin on the classic forced entry movie.
A group of teens desperate for cash break into the home of a blind veteran. They will probably get much more than they bargained for. Hopefully, as home invasion horror fans, so will we.
You're Next (2013)
At this point, creepy masks are a slasher movie staple. But what about cute lamb and bunny masks? How about trained killers who murder with crossbows and tautly stretched garrote wire? How often does the average home invader warn their victim in blood ahead of time: "You're Next"?
The kills in this 2013 breakout home invasion hit come fast and with little warning, a welcome change of pace that modern audiences fully embraced. If it's a slow burn you want, look elsewhere. If it's speed and surprise you crave, watch out because You're Next.