Some of the best single location movies are Phone Booth, The Breakfast Club, and 12 Angry Men
These days, audiences are used to Hollywood movies being filled with exotic locations. Whether you’re watching the latest movie from Marvel or DC or even a quirky film by Wes Anderson, you can usually expect to live vicariously through the characters as they travel from one awesome location to another. However, some of the best movies ever made were filmed almost entirely in a single location, and to prove it, here are our top picks for your viewing pleasure.
Phone Booth (2002)
These days, Colin Farrell is riding high after winning the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in Banshees of Inisherin (a film that also happened to win Best Picture). He’s also gearing up to return to his role as the Penguin in an HBO Max spinoff TV show based on The Batman.
But for our money, one of Farrell’s best and most overlooked performances will always be Phone Booth, a film that takes place almost entirely in (yup, you guessed it) a phone booth.
Farrell is almost too convincing as an arrogant, preening publicist who is trapped in the titular booth by a killer who is monitoring his every movie. It may not sound exciting on paper, but almost every scene features characters who will live or die based on what Farrell says or does. And from its explosive beginning to its shocking conclusion, this film kept us on the edge of our seats.
The Hateful Eight (2015)
These days, Quentin Tarantino seems pretty serious about only making one more movie. While we’re still sad that we’ll probably never get that Tarantino Star Trek movie fans were buzzing about, we’re always happy to return to the director’s previous film The Hateful Eight.
Thanks to a snowstorm vexing our characters, most of this movie takes place inside a cabin in which eight strangers are totally and completely trapped.
The plot takes place in the 19th century, but that’s mostly an exclusive for Tarantino to indulge in his love of period filmmaking. The real magic, though, comes not from the setting but from watching this stacked cast go at each other’s throats when they are thrust into close proximity.
With big names like Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, and even Channing Tatum, this film truly has a little something for everyone.
Shortly after he first played Deadpool in the disastrous X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Ryan Reynolds starred in a Spanish film (albeit entirely in English) called Buried. True to its name, the movie shows how Reynolds’ character is attacked and then buried alive in a cramped coffin. What follows is the story of how he tries to survive with both his body and his mind intact.
Obviously, already being a major fan of Ryan Reynolds will help you enjoy this movie. However, we dare say that even if you don’t like Reynolds, his captivating performance in this movie will make you a believer. If nothing else, we give the soon-to-be MCU actor credit for acting his heart out inside a tiny coffin while actually suffering from real-life claustrophobia.
The Breakfast Club (1985)
The Breakfast Club is an earlier film than many on our list. Nonetheless, this tale of high school ne’er-do-wells being stuck in high school detention over the weekend has resonated with different audiences across multiple generations. It’s not hard to see why: this John Hughes movie is all about bridging the gaps (including very large gaps) between different groups of people.
That’s because this movie helped to lock in the ‘80s tradition of basing characters on various archetypes (a trope that popular ‘80s homage Stranger Things leans heavily into). As one character opines in a famous speech from the film, these students appear at first glance to be nothing but a “brain” and an “athlete” and a “basket case” as well as a “princess” and a “criminal.”
But they learn to overcome their differences and become more than the sum of their stereotypes, and that’s an evergreen message if we’ve ever heard one.
12 Angry Men (1957)
12 Angry Men is noteworthy for many reasons. First, this courtroom drama is famous for taking place almost entirely in a jury room, where the titular angry men must decide another man’s fate. Secondly, the sheer popularity of this film helped to make “courtroom drama” a staple of both TV and film.
This film has been a critical hit from the very beginning, and it’s impossible to watch it without getting emotionally involved as these men discuss whether to charge someone with murder or not. Along the way, audiences are forced to ask some hard questions about both our perception of truth and the American system of justice.
And the vivid frailties and fixations of the different jurors help us learn more about what makes each and every one of us human.