The idea of unwanted intruders entering your home and threatening you and your loved ones is universally frightening. It is that very relatable fear that has made the home invasion sub-genre of film so popular with horror movie fans. For decades, we have seen this scenario play out in film with some great examples of how to do it right.
While there are many run-of-the-mill home invasion films, some of the best entries attempt something new with the formula. They use the familiar concept to find new ways of unsettling viewers. Here are some of the best home invasion horror movies.
The idea of being stalked in your own home by a madman is frightening enough, but imagine if you couldn't hear the killer coming or call out for help. That is the chilling concept behind Hush. The movie follows a deaf and mute writer who bunkers down in her remote home to get some writing done. Of course, she is not alone, as a masked killer shows up and begins toying with her.
The simple film is a very well-made thriller with a great central character to root for. Her perceived disability makes the situation even tenser, but her intelligence continues to show how she uses it to her advantage.
Mother! might not be the typical home invasion movie, but it is no less unsettling than the other films on this list. Auteur director Darren Aronofsky helms this highly divisive film about a pregnant woman who attempts to keep her house in order as her husband continues to bring in disruptive house guests.
The concept of having to deal with unwanted visitors in your home is one most people can relate to, but this film takes it to some horrific extremes. Jennifer Lawrence is exceptional in the lead role as this woman whose life is being ripped apart by these uncaring strangers.
8 Black Christmas
Christmastime might not seem like the best occasion to watch a home invasion movie, but you might make an exception for this dark holiday classic. In one of the films that helped kick-start the horror genre's love of slasher films, it follows a group of girls who are stalked by a killer within their sorority house just before Christmas break.
The film is elevated thanks to a strong cast, some well-placed humor, and surprisingly well-written characters. It is also an obvious inspiration for many films that followed. The film keeps the suspense ratcheted up as victims get picked off one-by-one.
7 The Last House On The Left
Wes Craven, the icon of the horror genre, made his directorial debut with this exploitation film from the 1970s that fed on people's fear of "freaks" walking among them. The film follows a couple who allows a group of travelers to rest in their home for the night, unaware that the travelers had just killed the couple's child.
The film is gritty and uncomfortable to watch at times, but nonetheless an effective and memorable entry in the genre. It balances the tension of the home invasion film with the energy of a revenge story.
6 Funny Games
German filmmaker Michael Haneke is known for his deeply depressing films, so it was a bit of a surprise that his foray in horror with the home invasion thriller Funny Games had a satirical sense of humor. However, it is still likely the darkest movie he's ever made.
The film follows a family vacationing in their lakeside home when a pair of polite young men begin intruding on their family time. Eventually, the men take the family hostage and begin playing sadistic mind games with them. The matter-of-fact nature of the men only helps makes it a very disturbing movie.
5 The Purge
While The Purge franchise grew into an all-out action series, it got its start with a very simple home invasion story. Set in a not-too-distant future where all crime is legalized for one night every year, one family tries to stay alive through the night as killers attempt to get in their secured home.
Some have said that this first film wasted a compelling concept on a rather small scale story, but in retrospect, it is an effective thriller. The overall film is helped by a great cast led by Ethan Hawke and Lena Heady.
4 The Strangers
The motivation behind a killer’s deadly intentions can sometimes be as disturbing as their actions. With home invasion films, the killers rarely have much motivation, which makes it all the more disturbing. In the case of the silent and masked intruders from The Strangers, it is pure randomness that led them to their victims.
The film has a simple set-up about a married couple being terrorized by unknown assailants. While the suggestion that it is based on true events is a stretch, it remains a tense and well-made film.
3 Straw Dogs
Sam Peckinpah helped change the Western genre with his violent classic The Wild Bunch, but that was nothing compared to his home invasion thriller, Straw Dogs. Coming out in the early 70s when there was a surge of gritty and violent high-profile films, this was pointed at as one of the most brutal.
The film stars Dustin Hoffman and Susan George as a mild-mannered couple who move to a rural English town, where they are harassed by several of the locals. The film's controversy is well-earned, but it remains a riveting and violent thriller.
2 You’re Next
Part of what makes You're Next such an entertaining and memorable home invasion movie is how it subverts the genre in clever ways. Set during a family get-together in a remote house, a group of killers descend on the gathering and begins picking people off. However, it turns out that one of the would-be victims is far more capable than they had anticipated.
What starts as a typical home invasion film turns into a Die Hard-esque thrill ride as the invaders soon find they are in as much danger as their targets. It is a smart, fun, and gory delight.
1 Don’t Breathe
Like You're Next, Don't Breathe is fresh take on the genre in which the home invaders are suddenly turned into the victims. However, in this twist, the people breaking into the house are much more sympathetic and good, while the homeowner is the real monster.
The film follows three young and struggling individuals who attempt to rob the house of a blind man. That man turns out to be their worst nightmare, and he stalks the terrified youngsters through his house as they attempt not to make a sound. It is one of the tensest and most nail-biting movies you're likely to see and a whole lot of fun.