8 of the most claustrophobic horror movies ever made

Image Courtesy Netflix
Oxygen Image Courtesy Netflix /

Imagine being stuck in a confined space, either by yourself or with a monstrous creature. Or, maybe being trapped underground with little to no chance of survival. How would this make you feel? I know my mental and emotional states would be all over the place, and I would be extremely anxious, paranoid, and fearful. This is how the characters feel in many horror movies. I'm talking about the horror flicks where we see characters trapped underwater, in small rooms, tight tunnels, narrow spaces, underground, etc.

We call these claustrophobic horror movies, and we've seen our fair share of them. For fun, we decided to share a list of some of the most claustrophobic horror flicks ever made right below. You've probably seen most of the movies on our list, if not all, but it's probably about that time for a rewatch sesh. So, go ahead and get your popcorn and drink of choice ready!

Alien (1979)

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Written by: Dan O'Bannon

Cast: Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm,
Yaphet Kotto

Considered by many to be one of the greatest science fiction and horror films of all time, Alien centers around the seven-member crew of the Nostromo spaceship as they make their way back home to Earth. When the spaceship's computer, Mother, detects a distress signal from a nearby moon, she awakens the crew that's in stasis, and then the crew heads out to investigate. But what they end up encountering on the uncharted planet is a deadly alien creature that somehow makes its way aboard the Nostromo. Now, stuck on a spacecraft way up in space, the crew must band together to try to survive as the extraterrestrial creature begins picking them off one by one.

The Descent (2005)

Directed and written by: Neil Marshall

Cast: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder, Nora-Jane Noone, MyAnna Buring

Being trapped underground and with humanoid creatures? No, thank you! That's what The Descent is about. A group of best friends decide to go on a caving adventure in the Appalachian Mountains to help one of them heal from a past tragic accident. They hike up to a mountain cave and start descending, only for them to end up trapped inside the cave after a rock collapses and blocks their exit. With a limited supply of resources and bloodthirsty creatures after them, the friend group must do everything they can to survive.

As Above, So Below (2014)

Directed by: John Erick Dowdle

Written by: John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle

Cast: Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge

As Above, So Below is another horror movie that can evoke a sense of claustrophobia in its viewers. It centers around an archaeologist and her team as they venture underground in search of a legendary alchemical substance, only to find themselves facing various obstacles, including tight passages, crumbling tunnels, and deadly supernatural encounters.

Oxygen (2021)

Directed by: Alexandre Aja

Written by: Christie LeBlanc

Cast: Mélanie Laurent, Mathieu Amalric, Malik Zidi

Oxygen is an underrated Netflix movie that sees a young woman struggling to survive in the confined space of an airtight medical cryogenic unit. She has no memory of who she is or how she ended up trapped in the cryogenic pod, but she must quickly find a way out because her oxygen levels are depleting rapidly.

Buried (2010)

Directed by: Rodrigo Cortés

Written by: Chris Sparling

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, José Luis García Pérez, Robert Paterson, Stephen Tobolowsky, Cade Dundish

Golden Globe nominee Ryan Reynolds stars as a civilian truck driver in Iraq, who after being attacked by a group of insurgents, wakes up to find himself buried alive in a wooden coffin with only a limited amount of resources to help him. With his oxygen supply dwindling the longer he stays trapped, the truck driver must do everything he can to find a way out.

No Exit (2022)

Directed by: Damien Power

Written by: Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari

Cast: Havana Rose Liu, Danny Ramirez, David Rysdahl, Dale Dickey, Mila Harris, Dennis Haysbert

Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Taylor Adams, No Exit follows a college student and recovering addict named Darby, who after finding out that mother is in the hospital, escapes rehab to see her. But on her way to the hospital, she gets stranded by a blizzard and is forced to pull over and find shelter at a nearby visitor's center. There, she meets four other people who are waiting out the storm as well. In an attempt to get a phone signal, she ventures outside the center and discovers a kidnapped girl locked in a van belonging to one of the people inside. Now, Darby must figure out who out of the four people is the kidnapper before rescuing the young girl and escaping the center.

Panic Room (2002)

Directed by: David Fincher

Written by: David Koepp

Cast: Jodie Foster, Forest Whitaker, Dwight Yoakam, Jared Leto, Kristen Stewart

The intense atmosphere and claustrophobic tension in this film will leave you feeling unsettled. Jodie Foster stars as a recently divorced mother who, after just moving into her new home with her 11-year-old daughter, finds herself and her daughter having to fight for their lives when three men break into the house in search of bearer bonds. In an attempt to survive, the mother and daughter rush to the small panic room inside the home and lock themselves in to protect themselves from the intruders. But the problem is that the bearer bonds are locked inside a safe inside the panic room, meaning the intruders will do everything they can to break in or make the mother and daughter come out.

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

Directed by: Dan Trachtenberg

Written by: Josh Campbell, Matt Stuecken, Damien Chazelle

Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr.

Once again, we have here a horror movie about someone being trapped underground. Jeepers creepers!10 Cloverfield Lane follows a young woman named Michelle who, after a car crash, wakes up in an underground bunker to find herself being held captive by a mysterious man. The man tells Michelle he saved her life by bringing her to the bunker after a massive chemical attack left the surface of the Earth uninhabitable. However, Michelle is skeptical of his claims and is determined to uncover the truth about the outside world. She just has to find a way to escape first.

What horror movies make you physically uncomfortable and anxious while watching them?

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