The vast vision of cinema enables us to see lands we’ve never visited, live vicariously through characters we’ve never known and be in the moment with the story we’ve probably never seen before. Huge production setups and sets have always been sort of a given in the world of films, but that’s not always the case.
From time to time, film makers have experimented with various techniques in cinema, sometimes due to monetary constraints, and at other times for their creative satisfaction. There have been films which were made in a single location to keep the audience completely glued on to the events happening on screen. These films usually have fewer characters and the addition of a secondary location is usually done for a few minutes to introduce the primary location.
Here are 15 fascinating films that were shot in a single location:
1. The Man from Earth (2007)
This science fiction drama is about a university professor who claims to have lived for over 14,000 years. At his farewell in his house, he confides in his colleagues about his longevity. The entire film is set in and around his house and the story moves forward through the dialogues between him and his faculty members.
2. 12 Angry Men (1957)
This film is a classic in this genre. The plot of the film is about a jury who has gathered to make a decision on the conviction of a man on trial for murder. The total duration of the film is 96 minutes out of which only 3 minutes are spent outside the jury room. The film was noted for narrating a story in a limited space. The Bollywood film, Ek Ruka Hua Faisla (1986), was a remake of this film and was shot in a single room as well.
3. Rope (1948)
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, this film takes place in real time. Two friends strangle a former classmate as an intellectual experiment and hide his body in a chest just before hosting a party. As guests start pouring in, the discussions about the ‘perfect murder’ start and carry the film forward. The film is noted for its long takes of 10 minutes, which were cut in a way so that the film looks like a single shot. The entire film takes place in one room where the party is being held.
4. The Mist (2007)
The majority of the film takes place inside a supermarket where a group of people are stuck after a violent thunderstorm. An unexplained mist engulfs the store along with earthquake-like tremors. Those who choose to ignore this are sucked in by the monster-like tentacles of the mist. The unexplained phenomena of ‘the mist’ makes this film a total edge-of-the-seat thriller.
5. Rear Window (1954)
This Hitchcock film shows events from inside a photographer’s apartment. Jeff (James Stewart) is stuck inside his apartment due to a fractured leg but uses his camera lens to peep in the apartments in the opposite building. His suspicions of a murder in the opposite building take the story forward in this limited setting. We only watch the events of the other building through his lens.
6. Exam (2009)
Eight people enter a room to sit for an exam for a new job, but there are rules. The candidates cannot talk to the invigilator or the armed guard outside the door and can’t spoil their paper or leave the room. As they begin to answer the paper, they realize that the sheet given to them is blank. The entire plot of the film takes place inside this room as people are eliminated at frequent intervals.
7. 1408 (2007)
This horror film relies on the psychological actions of the characters rather than indulging in gore. A writer who writes horror fiction but does not believe in it decides to spend a night in the infamous ‘Room 1408’ of a New York City hotel. The incidents in the room have caused 56 deaths and nobody has lasted more than an hour in the room. The events happening inside the room turn surreal from time to time which transport us to certain different settings while staying inside the room.
8. My Dinner with Andre (1981)
The film is based purely on the dialogue between two men when they meet at a restaurant. Out of 120 minutes of the film, only 7 minutes are spent outside the restaurant. The men discuss common pleasures of life, art, travel and experiences they’ve had in their lives.
9. Sleuth (1972)
This thriller tells the story of a man who willingly invites his wife’s lover to his house to discuss their ongoing situation. The events take an unexpected turn when one of them is shown to the audience as dead. The plot of the film enhances further with all the events taking place inside this house itself.
10. Tape (2001)
The entire film is set in a motel room. Vince and Jon have met after many years and are reminiscing about their high school days when the subject of Vince’s former girlfriend comes up. Vince believes that Jon raped her after they broke up. To make Jon confront the situation, Vince calls Amy at the motel. The complex dynamics of the trio are all set in a single motel room and add to the story.
11. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Sonny and Sal decide to rob a bank but the plan goes awry as soon as their robbery starts. They realise the cash from the bank had already been picked up for the day and all that’s left is $1100. The film is based on real events. The location switches between the inside of the bank and the exterior where the police is waiting for the robbers.
12. Fermat’s Room (2007)
In this Spanish thriller film, four people are invited to a house under the pretext of solving a great enigma. In the house, they are trapped inside a room, and they now must solve puzzles given by the host, who calls himself ‘Fermat’, to escape the room where the walls are slowly closing in.
13. Lebanon (2009)
This Israeli war film depicts the warfare that is witnessed from inside a tank. The crew inside the tank witnesses the events through a gun-sight. This film was quite unique in its style of film-making and garnered a lot of praise throughout the world for handling the subject really well.
14. Secret Honor (1984)
The film is a fictional account of the ageing Richard Nixon (former US President) who is seen through CCTV cameras in his house. He walks around his house with a loaded gun and scotch. The 90- minute film is a long monologue of Nixon where he introspects about his life and is shot entirely in one house with one character.
15. The Killing Room (2009)
In this thriller, four individuals sign up for a psychological experiment. One by one, they are brought into a white room and some really physical and psychological brutal experiments are performed on the candidates.