Everyone loves an all-star cast. When hordes of talented actors sign on to a project, there’s a natural sense of weight and gravitas instantly imparted on the project. But with the rules of safe social etiquette constantly in flux these days, where does this leave large, elaborate film productions? Now, don’t let this thought bum you out. While there is certainly no doubt that we are living in a new world, these challenges will undoubtedly produce a wealth of creative and unique output.
Along with shifts in execution and logistics, smaller, more focused productions seem to be an inevitable trend. Social distancing is likely going nowhere fast and safety will become just as important in front of the camera as behind it. Here lies the world of small cast, limited location films. Small productions are certainly not a new concept and many times, they come with their own unique perks. Financial efficiency, focused storytelling, character dialogue and development often thrive in smaller productions. Creativity is often on full display in incredible and surprising ways. Need some proof? Well, you’re in luck because horror is full of them. Here’s a list of 10 horror films with super small casts and limited locations:
10. The Fare (2018)
Tagline: A fare to remember
For nearly 90 minutes, D.C. Hamilton’s The Fare centers around one very fateful cab ride. Starring Gino Anthony Pesi as the cabdriver and Brinna Kelly (also the film’s writer) as the patron, The Fare proves a small production doesn’t need to be small on thrills. Time and time again these two find themselves embarking on the same journey. Time and time again questions inevitably arise. Part sci-fi, part horror, part mystery, the film captivates with its fluid dialogue and well executed storytelling. It’s a ride that takes you far from where you started, and even further than you expect.
9. Wait Until Dark (1967)
Tagline: The blinds moving up and down. . .the squeaking shoes. . .and then the knife whistling past her ear. . .
Before Don’t Breathe, there was Terence Young’s Wait Until Dark. Audrey Hepburn stars as Susy Hendrix, a blind, recently married New Yorker. When her husband inadvertently brings home a doll stuffed with heroin (and then leaves on a business trip), Susy finds herself at the mercy of three dangerous gangsters. Knowing she is blind, the three thugs attempt to sneak around her apartment looking for the drugs right under her nose. While the cast and locations are minimal, the film remains a tense, anxiety inducing adventure with one of the most iconic jump scares of all time.
8. Open Water (2003)
Tagline: Don’t get left behind
Remember this film? Boy, I sure do. Susan (Blanchard Ryan) and Daniel (Daniel Travis) leave on what they think is a Gilligan’s Island like three hour scuba tour. However, the duo quickly find themselves stranded in open water…and surrounded by sharks. Based on a true story, the film spends the large majority of its 80 minute runtime following the couple drifting out at sea. Nobody likes getting left behind, but this takes it to a whole other level.
7. 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
Tagline: Outside is dangerous… inside is terrifying.
Injured and trapped in a bunker with two complete strangers, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) quickly finds herself questioning where the real danger lies. The outside world may contain aliens and poison. But inside, the threat may prove to be the very humans who saved her life. A killer film, 10 Cloverfield Lane manages to achieve greatness by working as both a franchise installment and a stand alone film. And one certainly can’t overlook the incredible performance by John Goodman as Michelle‘s savior…and captor.
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6. The Caller (1987)
Tagline: A strange visitor. A mysterious woman. A surprise ending…
Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange) stars alongside Madolyn Smith Osborne (2010) in this psychological horror thriller. McDowell finds himself lost in the woods and in desperate need of a phone. When he finally stumbles across Osborne’s home, she grants him refuge and allows him into her home. What transpires next is a dark and twisted series of mind games with an unsettling darkness. Although we never learn either of their names, there are plenty of other tense mysteries that reveal themselves that fateful night in that strange house.
5. The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)
Tagline: Every body has a secret.
Director André Øvredal packs so much punch into this film with three main characters that one of them doesn’t even need to speak. As Tommy (Brian Cox) and his son Austin (Emile Hirsch) dig to uncover the secrets of Jane Doe (Olwen Kelly), they quickly find themselves in dark and dangerous territory. With 90% of the film taking place at the family’s basement funeral parlor, the tension and terror is palpable, claustrophobic and glorious.
4. Antichrist (2009)
Tagline: When nature turns evil, true terror awaits.
If you’re going to have a cast of two, having Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg as your leads is a pretty smart way to go. In the film, director Lars von Trier explores the overwhelming and ever evolving grief that parents navigate after losing a child. It’s horrific, weird and introspective in typical von Trier fashion. It is absolutely not a film for everyone, and it raises all sorts of questions, but its certainly not a film you’ll soon forget.
3. Dead Calm (1989)
Tagline: High Seas. Deep Terror.
From the folks behind Mad Max and The Road Warrior comes this often overlooked ocean-set horror film. Rae (Nicole Kidman) and John (Sam Neill) set sail for some much needed isolation following an emotional tragedy. While out in the middle of nowhere, they stumble across literal drifter Hughie (Billy Zane) who was forced to abandon his ship. Quickly, the couple find themselves in all sorts of hot water when they discover Hughie is not quite as forthcoming and honest as he initially seems. While the plot and film could have gone horribly awry in the wrong hands, Kidman, Neill and Zane prove their star power easily.
2. Creepozoids (1987)
Tagline: Move over, Aliens, here come the Creepozoids. Even if you kill them, they’re still deadly.
Scream queen Linnea Quigley stars as Blanca in this bonkers horror sci-fi post-apocalyptic bonanza. Blanca and her small band of survivors find themselves seeking refuge in an old government research facility. Can you see where this is heading? Slowly, Blanca finds her group being picked off one by one at the hands of research leftovers. A riotous 80’s romp with a killer soundtrack, Creepozoids is limited in actors, but abundant in fun.
1. The Head Hunter (2018)
Tagline: Vengeance is Vast
From director Jordan Downey (ThanksKilling) comes this minimal and incredible new film. With just a cast of two, The Head Hunter manages to tell the dark and tormented journey of a warrior battling his grief and vengeful spirit. A true testament to the power of passionate filmmaking, The Head Hunter does more with its minimal budget and crew than some films triple its size.
Need even more small cast, limited location horror films? Here’s a few more honorable mentions and heavy hitters for your viewing pleasure:
- Paranormal Activity
- The Shallows
- Green Room
- The Lighthouse
- Enemy Mine
- Evil Dead 1 & 2