For some, skyscrapers can be epic, beautiful examples of great architecture and modern technology. For others, however, tall apartment buildings can cause anxiety, paranoia, and terror. Dizzying heights, cramped elevators, sometimes taking passengers up to 100 floors above street level, and an ever-present fear of potential disaster make towering buildings a great source of tension.
So it’s no wonder that skyscrapers make excellent backdrops for horror and suspense movies. Audiences are already prepared for terror before the story even begins, all filmmakers need to do is harness that underlying fear to create thriller movies.
ten The Shaft / Down (2001) – Available to rent on Amazon Prime
Originally published as Down at the Cannes Film Festival, but later renamed The tree for its DVD release, the film focuses on the fictional 102-story Millennium building in New York City. One night, during a thunderstorm, a lightning strike struck the building, causing the elevators to operate erratically, killing anyone who climbed them.
The film is an American remake of the classic Dutch film from 1983 From the elevator, and was even directed by the original’s filmmaker Dick Maas. According to D23, some have even speculated that Disney’s famous Hollywood Tower of Terror ride may have been inspired by From the elevator and not The twilight zone, since there has never been an elevator episode in the series.
9 Candyman (1992) – Available on Tubi
Located inside Chicago’s huge Cabrini-Green public housing units, Candy used issues of race and poverty to create a horror film that felt an unsettling reality. In the late 1970s and 1990s, Cabrini-Green housing became a hotbed of poverty, gang violence, and neglect by city officials.
The reputation of the Cabrini-Green resort inspired director and screenwriter Bernard Rose to adapt Clive Barker’s short story The forbidden, carrying the land of a run-down estate through the hallways of Chicago’s famous housing units.
8 Cloverfield (2008) – Available on HBO Max
Cloverfield was the first true monster movie to hit US theaters since the 1998 controversy Godzilla remake. In the movie, a giant alien emerges from the ocean and begins to destroy New York City. Released in 2008, it was also one of the first films to portray the attack on Manhattan in a post 9/11 world.
One of the film’s most famous scenes took place at One Columbus Circle. The 55-story twin-tower complex was attacked by the monster in Cloverfield, causing one of the towers to collapse into the other. The only problem was that the main character’s girlfriend was trapped inside …
7 Mayhem (2017) – Available on Shudder
In Grabuge, the airborne “Red Eye” virus alters the neuronal capacities of humans, forcing them to live out their most carnal and vicious desires. One day, the virus is released into the ventilation system of a giant office tower, and the building is immediately quarantined to contain the spread.
Inside, it becomes an all-out battle royale, as employees are forced to outlive their coworkers. The film starred Steven Yeun, of Walking Dead glory, as well as Samara Weaving, who starred in the recent Hulu hit, Nine Perfect Strangers.
6 Poltergeist III (1998) – Available on HBO Max
In the third installment of the Fighting spirit series, Carol Anne is sent to live with her aunt and uncle, who reside in Chicago’s famed John Hancock Center, the city’s fifth talent building, 100 stories tall. Naturally, once Carol Anne arrives, all hell breaks loose and the hauntings begin again.
The film was criticized for its storyline compared to the previous two films, but it was also praised for its use of practical effects. Sadly, this was the last movie Heather O’Rourke starred in before her untimely passing. She died before production ended, sparking controversy over whether Poltergeist III was cursed, should never be released, or even completed.
5 Devil (2010) – Available on Peacock
Although M. Night Shyamalan’s films are polarizing, he is once again creating blockbuster horror films like Old and Visit. However, by the late 2000s, Shyamalan had a series of poorly received films like Lady in the water, The event and The last air Master. Fortunately, Devil, which was written and produced by Shyamalan, came out and again showed signs of promise for the filmmaker.
In the movie, a group of aliens are all trapped in an elevator and one by one they begin to mysteriously die. Devil did a great job creating a story in one very confined, small space, and it saved Shyamalan’s reputation, proving he always knew how to go back to his horror roots.
4 Shivers (1975) – Available on Shudder
Directed by David Cronenberg, the master of movies that squirm in your seat, Thrill takes place in a high-rise apartment building in Montreal. In the movie, a parasite was released into the apartment complex, causing humans to lose their inhibitions and become slaves to their sexual desires. Soon after, chaos invades the apartment tower as the parasite uses sex to spread to new hosts.
Combining sex and nudity with horror is something Cronenberg is famous for, like the infamous cockroach scene in Naked lunch, Jeff Goldblum’s naked body merges with that of a fly in Fly, and the plot of the movie “snuff” by Videodrome.
3 Attack The Block (2011) – Available on Hulu
In Attack the block, a group of thugs in south London suddenly find themselves attacked by alien invaders. “Block” refers to a high-rise apartment building, sometimes carrying with it the context of public housing – hence the name of the film – as the group seeks refuge in one of London’s huge apartment buildings. .
The film also proved to be the leading role going forward. Star wars star, John Boyega. Attack the block quickly gained international fame and won awards at SXSW, Los Angeles Film Festival, and many more.
2 American Psycho (2000) – Available on Showtime
American psychopath is one of the most acclaimed but misunderstood horror films of all time. The plot centers on a narcissistic sociopath living in New York City and consumed by his own greed and rage. Unable to deal with his emotions, he kills whomever he wants … often in his high rise apartment on the Upper West Side.
Rather than mere incidental decor, the apartment serves a point in history, as its opulence is an intentional display of capitalism and privilege. And like geek lair mentions, this is also a commentary on toxic masculinity, male aggression and domination, and the issues that come with it.
1 High-Rise (2015) – Available on Amazon Prime
high rise addresses the concept of “city within city” architecture which seeks to build high-rise apartment buildings with amenities such as grocery stores, offices, etc., all with the idea that someone could spend their entire time day without ever leaving the building. This concept has been used in many large-scale skyscrapers, such as the Marina Towers in Chicago.
In high rise, residents of a new multi-use apartment tower rarely leave the building now that they no longer need it. However, there are underlying tensions as the floors are separated by class. Once the building begins to collapse and suffer from power outages, water shortages and a lack of police presence, residents become unruly, ultimately turning the interior of the building into a veritable war zone.
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