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The best movie thrillers set in one location

Whether it be a Bond or a Bourne, action loves to travel. Globe-trotting and location-hopping is always handy for moving the plot along, so that the modern-day action stars can meet and fight plenty of people before the credits roll.

But one location doesn’t mean things necessarily come to a halt. In fact, there are plenty of blockbusters, mesmerising adventures and breath-taking psychological thrillers that barely change setting. These high-octane movies take the time to truly stop and explore their characters, see danger around familiar corners, and will change the way you see these fairly standard settings forever.

To celebrate the release of Trauma Centre starring Bruce Willis set inside a hospital, we have highlighted some of the most intense and claustrophobic one set location thrillers below!

Locke (2013) starring Tom Hardy

Phrases like ‘nail-biting’ and ‘gripping’ don’t necessarily come to mind when you think of your daily commute. But this is the only way to describe Steven Knight’s ground-breaking, vehicle-set thriller Locke. Charting a mysterious moonlight drive through county lines, Locke traps the audience in a car with a tense, increasingly agitated driver portrayed with usual intensity by Tom Hardy; like a relentless, one-way uber drive you wish you’d never ordered. Knight uses the small interior of the car as a psychological weapon – the longer Hardy’s protagonist drives, and the more fearful his expression becomes, the audience feels tugged along toward a destination no one wants to see. When the increasingly panicked voices of loved ones are added to the environment through the driver’s phone, the resulting suspense will have you reaching for the brakes.

Hush (2016) starring Kate Siegel

Horror-maestro Mike Flanagan produced one of the most nerve-shredding features of 2016 with Hush. Kate Siegal (also a co-writer of the fast-paced screenplay) brings a breath of fresh air to the final girl trope when her house is invaded by a serial killer. There are many fascinating and creative twists on the slasher flick; she is deaf, the killer isn’t, they’re far from civilisation, he’s already murdered her only contacts off-screen in a bloody introduction sequence. But far and away the most memorable part of Hush is the way that Maddie’s (Kate Siegal), only option is to stay in the house where she is being hunted – finding new and ingenious ways to turn the tables and use her familiarity with the place to get a one-up on the masked invader. In this home-based horror, our heroine nearly dies in almost every room of the house, fights back with cutlery and must host a psycho-killer on her own front porch. Never has the walk between the living room and the kitchen been so terrifying and deadly.

Phone Booth (2002) starring Colin Farrell

Trapping Colin Farrell in a New York phone booth when the actor has enough off-kilter charisma to fill two cities may appear counter-intuitive but it pays off brilliantly In Joel Schumacher’s 2002 feature. Stu (Farrell) is more hustler than businessman when he is held hostage in a phone booth by a disgruntled associate. By picking up the phone, Stu is trapped, if he makes one step, he will be gunned down. Farrell masterfully switches between rigid panic and anger as he cannot move out of the limelight when the police investigation quite literally surrounds him. Ransoms’ and hostages are standard fair in crime thrillers, but Schumacker’s choice to go literal when the villain says ‘freeze’ means we get to see a gritty, vision of what it’s like to be prey in a cage. Bad for Stu, great for viewing.

Buried (2010) starring Ryan Reynolds

Infamously claustrophobic and uncomfortable, this one-man show proved Ryan Reynolds could carry a film even before Deadpool. Sadly, Reynold’s Buried character faces a more mortal fate than the comic-book caricature he would inhabit later. Buried digs deep into a primal, shared human fair of tight spaces. Left alive in a coffin six feet under, Paul (Reynolds) has only the dim light and dimmer chance of contact form his damaged cell phone. Being afraid of running into deadly threats is thrilling territory, but Rodrigo Cortez’s film has the hero, and the audience, paralysed in one position while the threat (stretches of sand and soil that threaten to cave in on Paul) closes in on them. A film that would make cinemagoers wish they’d left their phone on.

Trauma Centre (2020) starring Bruce Willis

The latest action movie to hone in on a single location proves there is more power than ever in this focused style of plotting. Trauma Centre portrays the riveting case of a key murder witness who is being held hostage in a corrupt hospital facility by the men that want her dead. Bruce Willis makes a reassuring return as a man on the outside of the Trauma Centre trying to save the hero on the inside – and the idea of the corruption of a supposed-safe-zone is explored with intrigue and pule-raising tension. As Detective Wakes (Willis) races to get in, and an injured Madison (Whelan) races to get out, the setting becomes a memorable centre of every fight, every shot, every threat and every survivor.

TRAUMA CENTRE is available on Digital Download 17th February and DVD 24th February 2020


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