By Amy Ryan
September 23, 2005 at 12:00 PM EDT

Filmmakers like to take advantage of the big screen’s ability to ”open up” a story and present wide, sweeping vistas. Seldom does a movie take the opposite approach and present a story, like Flightplan‘s airborne thriller plot, that takes place in as limited a space as possible. Flightplan‘s release today inspired me to wonder: what are the best claustrophobia movies, films where much of the action takes place in a confined space? Here are the ones I came up with:

1) The Vanishing (director George Sluizer’s original 1988 Dutch version, not his inferior American remake) A great chiller, with one of the creepiest, most disturbing endings of all time.

2) A Taste of Cherry Abbas Kiarostami’s masterpiece takes place entirely inside a taxi, as a Tehran cabbie tries to persuade various passengers to help him violate Islamic taboo and commit suicide. Not depressing at all, though; it’s a movie that actually affirms a belief in life and art.

3) Das Boot Best. Submarine. Movie. Ever.

4) The Lady Vanishes Hitchcock’s classic is the obvious inspiration for Flightplan‘s missing-child plot, except it takes place on a moving train.

5) Papillon Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman, imprisoned on Devil’s Island. A must.

6) Lifeboat Lesser-known Hitchcock but similarly compelling. Nine people from various walks of life struggling to survive in a tiny craft.  Someday, Mark Burnett will remake it as a reality show.

7) The Pit and the Pendulum No one does claustrophobia like Edgar Allan Poe, and no one does Poe like Roger Corman and Vincent Price.

8) Panic Room After this movie, you’d think Jodie Foster would have gotten the whole fighting-for-my-daughter’s-life-in-a-tight-space thing out of her system. Guess not.
Any of your favorites that I missed?

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