10 Must-Watch One-Location Movies, Ranked by How Much You’ll Need to Press Pause

Just to get rid of some of the claustrophobia feels.

best one-location movies
ILLUSTRATION War Espejo

(SPOT.ph) There is something about movies set in a single location that hits even harder. The stress levels climb up, the stakes feel higher, and you somehow feel even more absorbed into whatever is happening off-screen. If you’re suddenly into this rather niche trope, we run down a list of some of the coolest movies with just one setting. They’re ranked by stress levels—from an easygoing-ish mystery to full on butt-clench mode—to make it easier for you to pick!

Also read: 10 Stress-Inducing Netflix Series, Ranked by How Butthole-Clenching It Is

Check out the coolest one-location movies ranked by how stressful it gets:

10. Clue (1985)

Location: A fancy-shmancy mansion with very, as expected, gaudy vibes. Right up there with The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Beetlejuice type settings.

Gist: This '80s cult classic is arguably the mother of all murder mystery movies we enjoy today. A kooky bunch—butler Wadsworth (the Tim Curry), the powerful Mrs. Peacock (Eileen Brennan), timid Mr. Green (Michael McKean), and more—are trapped in a mansion with a killer amongst them. This one is far more campy fun than heavy thrills but is sure to keep you on your toes throughout.

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9. 12 Angry Men (1957)

Location: The jury room in a New York County courthouse.

Gist: We couldn’t make a one-location movie list without including one of the OGs. This classic film starring Henry Fonda lays it all out over one meeting of twelve very different men—no women here, unfortunately (except for a witness)—as they decide on the fate of an 18-year-old with an impoverished background. There will be about zero action here—but the questions of morality and principle, and individual motives, are sure to keep this movie in your head for a very long time.

8. Gerald's Game (2017)

Location: An isolated cabin that was meant to be a steamy retreat-turned-absolute horror.

Gist: First thing to note, this movie is based on a 1992 Stephen King novel and is directed by Haunting of Hill House’s Mike Flanagan. Yup, expect actual and psychological horror. Second note is that this isn’t strictly a one-location movie! Most of the story happens while Jessie (Carla Gugino) is left strapped to the bed after some kinky times with her husband goes awry when he unexpectedly dies of a heart attack. Trust us, the premise gets far more complicated than that.

7. Locke (2013)

Location: A BMW X5 on the move to London.

Gist: Tom Hardy takes on the role of Ivan Locke, a construction foreman on one heck of a drive. We’ll recount the situation as succinctly as possible. His wife and kids are waiting for him to come home for a big football match—they’re British—there’s a big work thing he’s in charge of that they have to prep for, and a woman he had a one-night-stand with is currently having his baby at the hospital that he is rushing to. His whole life basically changes in the course of one drive through a series of phone calls and internal discussions. If you’d like a long and hard look at the most seemingly mundane but life-changing moments, then this one is sure to resonate.

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6. The Shallows (2016)

Location: A secluded Mexico beach.

Gist: Blake Lively versus an oddly tenacious shark. Okay, so this one is not exactly a purely single setting either but trust us when we say we freakin’ hate this shark so much, it’s really all we remember from this movie. We don’t know what this animal’s deal is—aside from humanity pretty much wiping out its entire species, maybe—and it’s hard not to stay glued to the screen rooting for Nancy (Lively) and her fight for survival. There’s this whole personal journey Nancy goes through too but who are we kidding, Lively vs. Shark has our full attention.

5. The Guilty (2021)

Location: A 911 operator’s station in L.A.

Gist: The entire high-stakes movie happens in the course of one morning as a 911 operator struggles to save an abducted woman using only his screens and calls. Shot entirely from just the operator’s perspective from his office, you can really feel the helplessness and desperation magnified as he tries every which way to help the woman—and coupled with the character’s own backstory, it’s definitely a butthole-clenching type of movie. Plus, add in the WFH factor and it somehow becomes an odd reflection of the times.

4. The Invitation (2015)

Location: A dinner party at some upscale home in Hollywood Hills goes down far south.

Gist: If batshit-crazy content is the type of niche that you’re into, then this one’s for you. Will (Logan Marshall-Green) is back in his old family home, where his ex-wife now lives with her new husband, for what is sure to be an awkward dinner party. Well, “awkward” is an understatement. Things start to get sinister as the already-strange crew gathered together becomes even stranger—and whisperings of a cult gets louder.

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3. Don't Breathe (2016)

Location: House of an old blind man. Don’t be fooled, though.

Gist: Three friends and small-time crooks make the mistake of their lives when they target the house of an old, blind man. Turns out what they thought would be an easy break in is complicated when it turns out the old man is a merciless war veteran with some very dark secrets of his own. Yup, there’s far more to this than the prey-actually-being-the-hunter type of trope!

2. Phone Booth (2002)

Location: A New York City phone booth. Yup, remember those?

Gist: Okay, so the phone booth definitely makes this movie dated—but this Colin Farrell-starrer remains a must-watch for all thriller fans. An arrogant NY publicist named Stuart (Farrell) has his life turned upside down, and placed in mortal danger, when he answers the ringing of a random phone booth. Completely at the mercy of the unknown caller who is yup, armed with a rifle, he must deal with this stranger’s wants while negotiating for his life, and the lives of his wife Kelly (Radha Mitchell) and his girlfriend Pamela (Katie Holmes). And you think phone calls are hard. Imagine this one.

1. Buried (2010)

Location: A wooden coffin buried somewhere in the Iraqi dessert.

Gist: Civilian truck driver Paul (Ryan Reynolds) is stationed in Iraq and one day wakes up buried alive with only a lighter, pen, and Blackberry. This very stressful movie plays out entirely in the said coffin as the audience tries to make sense of the situation with Paul—and on Paul’s part, as he tries to make it out alive. Definitely not a film for the easily stressed as Paul struggles to find someone actually willing to save him. As a side note, husband-and-wife Reynolds and Lively sure are made for each other.

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