Containment: 16 Great One-Location Movies to Stream Right Now

Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, and Anthony Michael Hall in The Breakfast Club (1985).
Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, and Anthony Michael Hall in The Breakfast Club (1985).
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

For better or worse, isolation has become the new normal for most of us—and movies and television have become an opportunity to escape. But even without breaking that fourth wall into theaters and our living rooms, movies have sometimes limited themselves to single spaces as a matter of creativity, cost, and ultimately storytelling.

As audiences sit restless in their homes, these are some of the best movies in the medium’s history that similarly kept their characters in tight spots—trapped, contained, and trying desperately to get by, get out, or just get away from the circumstances shackling them on screen.

1. Rope (1948)

Alfred Hitchcock’s inventive storytelling catapulted to a new level with Rope, a drama about two scheming young men who attempt to stage the “perfect murder,” only to encounter their endlessly curious prep-school headmaster, played by Jimmy Stewart. Taking place not only in the single location of their apartment but in real time using a series of continuous, invisibly-assembled long takes, the film meticulously builds suspense even as it showcases Hitchcock’s dazzling, unparalleled creativity.

Where to watch it: Amazon

2. Rear Window (1954)

One of Hitchcock’s signature films, this 1954 thriller follows a photographer in a wheelchair whose curiosity about his neighbors turns into a possible murder mystery. The reliable, endlessly inquisitive Jimmy Stewart plays Jeff, whose growing obsession with a traveling jewelry salesman (Raymond Burr) eventually enlists his socialite girlfriend Lisa (the breathtakingly beautiful Grace Kelly) in an investigation that lands them both in very mortal danger. A meditation on the voyeurism of the movies themselves, Jeff’s endeavor to explore the outside world with an imagination that outpaces his physical abilities feels especially relevant right now.

Where to watch it: Amazon

3. 12 Angry Men (1957)

Adapted from a teleplay of the same name, Sidney Lumet’s iconic drama joined the National Registry in 2007 for its complex, enduring portrait of jurors deciding the fate of an 18-year-old on trial for murder. Questioning evidence that initially seems crystal clear, Henry Fonda leads an amazing cast of character actors including Martin Balsam, Jack Klugman, Jack Warden, and E.G. Marshall, as each man makes his case to the rest, wrestling with individual prejudices and the rule, and principle, of law to come out the other side changed—as the audience is too, even today.

Where to watch it: Amazon Prime

4. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Nearly two decades after 12 Angry Men, Sidney Lumet directed this oddball drama, based on a true story, about a pair of inept bank robbers who mount a confrontation with the authorities after their half-baked plans fall apart. Featuring Al Pacino and John Cazale as the crooks and Charles Durning as the cop assigned to negotiate with these increasingly feckless criminals, Lumet captures the strange, amusing, and oddly relatable relationships that evolve throughout the film—first as motives to put the plot in motion, but eventually they underscore the choices, paths taken and abandoned, that lead us all to inevitable crossroads in our lives.

Where to watch it: Amazon, Vudu

5. The Breakfast Club (1985)

Writer-director John Hughes reached the peak of his popularity—and skill capturing the personalities of teenagers—with this 1985 dramedy, which remained a template for high schoolers for decades to come. When a diverse group of kids are locked together for detention in their school library, they start off making mischief before quickly beginning to learn some unexpected lessons about each other—and themselves. The movie’s success certainly opened up the careers of its cast to new heights, but there’s something about its concentration of very specific teenage clichés and broader universal truths, forced from that compressed space and time in detention, that allows it today to endure, and transcend.

Where to watch it: Amazon, Hulu, Vudu

6. Clue (1985)

As the first ever movie based on a board game, Clue takes all of the classic tropes of the one it’s based on and scrambles them up into a delightful romp that has since become a cult classic. Set in a secluded New England mansion, the film features an all-star cast including Eileen Brennan, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, and Michael McKean as characters who all have a reason to kill, an instrument to do it, and an alibi when they become the prime suspect. Three different endings were created to keep audiences in the dark (and offer different options for multiple viewings), but the big thrill is getting locked inside that creaky mansion and trying to figure out the mystery.

Where to watch it: Amazon, Vudu

7. Die Hard (1988)

An action formula so popular it not only spawned four sequels but created a set-up that literally dozens of other films would follow, John McTiernan’s Die Hard tells the story of a scruffy cop fighting against a team of international thieves in a Los Angeles skyscraper where his wife works. The basic premise—locking the hero in a confined space, and robbing him of his usual tools—has been poached with varying success over the years, but from John McClane’s lack of shoes to his marital dilemmas, McTiernan’s film does it all flawlessly, exerting ever more pressure on the hero to survive, prevail, and just maybe take away a few life lessons himself.

Where to watch it: Hulu, Amazon, Vudu

8. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Quentin Tarantino’s directing debut was a bracing blast of cold water to Hollywood, a riveting, character-rich drama about a group of thieves assembled for a heist that devolved into violence and infighting. Taking place almost exclusively inside a warehouse, the various members of this motley crew exchange profane barbs as they attempt to work out what happened during the job, and what to do now that it’s over. Featuring one of the most gruesome scenes Tarantino ever wrote (which, notably, you actually don’t ever see), the film feels as powerful and revelatory now as back in 1992, as you’re trapped inside that room while the dogs turn on each other.

Where to watch it: Amazon

9. Clerks (1994)

Shot for a little over $25,000 at a pivotal moment in the growth of independent cinema, Kevin Smith launched his career with this film set inside the convenience store where he used to work. Featuring two twenty-something nobodies musing about romance, adulthood, and pop culture, Smith captured the voice of a generation even as he conceived an escalating series of side-splitting scenarios and created his own C-3PO and R2D2, Jay and Silent Bob, who became the eventual observers and connective tissue of the View Askewniverse.

Where to watch it: Hulu, Amazon, Cinemax On Demand

10. Panic Room (2002)

David Fincher was still working his way through the Hitchcock playbook when he directed this delightful nailbiter about a divorcée (Jodie Foster) and her daughter (Kristen Stewart, in case you forgot) hiding from home invaders in the one room they most want to enter. Ratcheting up tension as Foster’s Meg tries to reach the outside world and even the burglars fall at odds with their plans, Fincher employs clever storytelling and inventive camerawork to keep the audience not just locked inside the elegant townhome that provides its setting but keeping them connected to each corner and cranny where the action takes place.

Where to watch it: Hulu, Amazon, Vudu

11. Pontypool (2008)

Directed by Bruce McDonald from an adaptation of Tony Burgess’s novel written by the author himself, Pontypool conceives a uniquely fascinating idea: what if an infection or virus could be caused not by blood or bacteria but the human voice? Stephen McHattie plays a shock jock trapped inside his radio station after people in his audience—and the outside world—begin succumbing to this unknown, unexplainable phenomenon. A zombie movie that takes that familiar epidemic from a uniquely intellectual perspective, McDonald’s film creates both visceral tension and the unique existential terror of an unseen, detectable, and yet impossible-to-pin-down threat.

Where to watch it: iTunes

12. The Raid (2011)

Gareth Evans put Indonesia on the action movie map with this brutal, beautifully violent movie about a cop trapped inside a run-down apartment building that serves as a stronghold for a crime lord. Fighting his way from one floor to the next as dozens upon dozens of gun-, sword-, and fist-toting opponents try to take him out, Iko Uwais showcases blindingly fast choreography that absolutely seems like people died or were seriously injured making the film. Meanwhile, a slender, elegant emotional thread keeps the action rooted in emotional dimensions that carry the audience forward as they watch him fight to escape, and for his very life.

Where to watch it: Amazon, Vudu

13. Dredd (2012)

Before moving on to direct Ex Machina and Annihilation and create FX’s Devs, Alex Garland wrote this franchise reboot for Judge Dredd in which the comic character (played here by Karl Urban) gets locked inside a high rise run by crime lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey, as ruthless as on Game of Thrones). Brutally violent but visually gorgeous, Garland and director Pete Travis reinvent the character for a new generation in a decidedly more serious and imposing way, but it’s the looming building containing all of the characters that creates a pressure cooker that cannot help but explode in the biggest, most glorious way possible.

Where to watch it: Amazon, Vudu

14. Locke (2013)

Writer-director Steven Knight helmed this acting showcase for Tom Hardy about a construction foreman attempting to juggle the biggest job of his career while dealing with the fallout from a one-night stand. Set entirely in his car as he drives to the hospital where the woman is giving birth, Hardy’s title character wrestles with his own moral obligations and fears while navigating his job duties, his marital expectations, and his financial responsibilities. As uninteresting as it might sound for a guy to take 36 phone calls in his car over 85 minutes, Hardy’s performance lends a level of exasperation, pathos, and humanity that is absolutely mesmerizing to watch.

Where to watch it: Netflix, Amazon, Vudu

15. The Invitation (2015)

Karyn Kusama directed this thriller about a man named Will (Logan Marshall-Green) who attends a dinner party hosted by his ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard), only to learn that she and her new partner David (Michiel Huisman) have quietly locked guests inside their home for mysterious, possibly deadly purposes. Kusama maximizes both Will’s claustrophobia and the cinematic possibilities of the pristine, modern home—a beautiful, threatening prison that the grieving father wants desperately to escape as he uncovers a sinister plot taking place not just to him, but across the city around them.

Where to watch it: Netflix

16. Gerald’s Game (2017)

Mike Flanagan is easily one of the great journeymen of the modern era of horror, and his adaptation of Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game expertly captures the feverish, hallucinatory uncertainty of a woman left to fend for herself—and figure out a way to survive—when her husband dies of a heart attack after handcuffing her to a bedpost. Carla Gugino gives a showstopping performance as Jessie, stuck in frantic circumstances that propel her through some particularly unhappy reflections, repressed memories, and (possibly?) real visions as she attempts to escape the prison of a beach-house bedroom.

Where to watch it: Netflix

Mental Floss's Three-Day Sale Includes Deals on Apple AirPods, Sony Wireless Headphones, and More


During this weekend's three-day sale on the Mental Floss Shop, you'll find deep discounts on products like AirPods, Martha Stewart’s bestselling pressure cooker, and more. Check out the best deals below.

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Martha Stewart

If you’re thinking of taking the plunge and buying a new pressure cooker, this 8-quart model from Martha Stewart comes with 14 presets, a wire rack, a spoon, and a rice measuring cup to make delicious dinners using just one appliance.

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Prices subject to change.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. If you haven't received your voucher or have a question about your order, contact the Mental Floss shop here.

Tiger King Star Carole Baskin Is Back With a New Line of Tiger-Themed Face Masks

Sock Fancy
Sock Fancy

When Netflix released the controversial documentary Tiger King back in March, millions of viewers witnessed the unpredictable, and incredibly volatile, rivalry between eccentric zookeeper Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin, the owner of the animal sanctuary Big Cat Rescue.

Though Joe Exotic remains behind bars, Baskin is still in the public eye, recently debuting as a contestant on ABC's Dancing With the Stars. And as Baskin makes her return to TV, she's also looking to keep all her cool cats and kittens safe with a new line of tiger-themed face masks from Sock Fancy.

Staying on theme with Tiger King and Big Cat Rescue, Baskin's masks feature black and orange stripes, a playful design that looks like a tiger's mouth, and one that shows off her signature catchphrase.

Sock Fancy

All the masks are washable and reusable, with an adjustable ear loop for comfort. They also have a built-in nose clip and a 3D chin design for a safer fit. You're doing a bit of good whenever you buy a Sock Fancy mask, because for every face mask purchased, another is donated to someone in need. Head on over to the Carole Baskin Sock Fancy here to see all they have to offer.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.