Jodie Foster in Panic Room/Photo © 2002 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
Winter weather got you feeling trapped? Here’s a list of five films that will keep you cozily indoors, featuring characters that are — fittingly and similarly — stuck inside.
David Fincher’s “Panic Room”
In what is probably the most underrated of dark visionary director David Fincher’s career, “Panic Room” follows a newly divorced Meg Altman (Jodie Foster) and her tween daughter’s (Kristen Stewart) first night in their new four-story New York brownstone, installed with a high-tech panic room. The previous owner, now deceased, was a reclusive millionaire and one of his bratty heirs (Jared Leto) has plans to nab the $3 million in bonds that he left behind, acquiring an employee from the security company (Forest Whitaker) and an armed gunman (Dwight Yoakam). However, upon their swift break in, Meg grabs her daughter and locks herself in the panic room – the location of the desired bonds. What happens then is a cat-and-mouse tale of survival, slickly shot and marvelously acted.
Ang Lee’s “The Ice Storm”
Based on Rick Moody’s novel of the same name, “The Ice Storm” follows two dysfunctional families living in New Canaan, Connecticut in the early 1970s. The film takes place during the Watergate scandal, spotlighting the release of “Deep Throat” and an influx of swinger parties. While the adult characters commit adultery, their teenage offspring begin exploring their sexuality. On the night of an ice storm, the parents go to a key party, while their kids are left to their own devices. The film is a beautiful and quiet portrait of a turning point in America’s history, when scandal and liberation were pervasive.
Jonathan Lynn’s “Clue”
Invited to a mystery dinner party at a mansion during a rainstorm, a group of six strangers all find out they have one thing in common, they’re all being blackmailed by the same person. Once the blackmailer reveals himself at the party, he’s murdered, and the rest of the evening is spent figuring out who did it, with what, and why. The film is, of course, based on the Parker Brothers board game, and has since become a cult classic. It’s hilarious ensemble cast of Madeline Kahn, Eileen Brennan, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull, and Lesley Ann Warren. Tim Curry and Colleen Camp also star as the enlisted help of the mansion. The comedy’s theatrical release saw three alternative endings, all of which are provided consecutively on home video and DVD.
Mark Waters’ “The House of Yes”
Marty (Josh Hamilton) just wants to introduce his new fiancé Lesly (Tori Spelling) to his family on Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, his family is anything but normal. His sister Jackie-O (Parker Posey) is a psychotic waif, obsessed with the Kennedy assassination, his brother Anthony (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) is a vindictive college dropout, and his mother (Geneviève Bujold) just wants to get through the night without anyone getting maimed. Thanksgiving night is plagued by a hurricane, and the power goes out. With no dinner or TV, the only thing left is conversation, and with that comes trouble as the family’s weird secrets come spilling out.
Stephen King’s “Rose Red”
The greatest thing about this mini-series is that it plays as a “Stephen King’s Greatest Hits” mixed with Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. Taking hints from his past works The Shining, Carrie, Pet Sematary, The Dark Tower. Heavily inspired by the story of the Winchester Mystery house in Northern California, the character of Ellen Rimbauer is advised by a psychic that she must continue to build upon her already gigantic estate in an effort to avoid death. The house, built on a Native American burial ground (a constant theme of King’s), is allegedly cursed, resulting in several deaths during its construction, and ultimately leading to the disappearence of Ellen Rimbauer herself. Dr. Joyce Reardon (Nancy Travis) is a paranormal psychologist, obsessed with the house and its dark history, and hires a team of psychics to explore the grounds and make contact with the spirits residing there. Of course, the house has a plan of its own, locking all of its doors and trapping the group inside, feeding on all of their fears. It’s an entertaining way to spend four hours of your time, with some genuinely creepy moments and a great tongue-in-cheek, self-referential humor.