Movies that take place in a (very) limited space are fascinating for multiple reasons. For starters, because viewers constantly see the same space and the same things inside that space, cinematography can’t conveniently rely on constantly showing interesting new views. It also pushes the script-writers: how to keep things happening in the same space constantly interesting enough. It is reminiscent of Oulipo‘s use of constrained writing techniques. Oulipo used constraints as “a means of triggering ideas and inspiration.”


Almost the entire movie takes place within four walls or in a very confined open space, people in the room or in that space can see the same things.


An object (e.g. a hotel or a large plane or train or spaceship) with multiple discrete rooms isn’t allowed, a studio with a separate kitchen could be. Intro’s and outro’s are permitted, as are outside camera views and short exits. The less often such things happen, the more purely the movie adheres to the stated definition. [Disagreements can be voiced here.] For convenience we apply The 90% Rule: at least ninety percent of the movie has to take place in the same room (substantiated deviations possible). A place (e.g. an island or a facility on an island or a prison on an island) is not a space in the sense meant above. Neither is a large spaceship.

The list (+/- ordered by purity of adhering to the definition)

  • Buried (2010)
  • All is lost (2013)
  • Saw
  • Locke (2013)
  • Kon Tiki (1950)
  • The guilty (2021)
  • Phone booth (2002)
  • The breakfast club (1985)
  • Dogville (2003)
  • Hard Candy (2005)
  • The hatefull eight (2015)
  • Speed (1994)
  • Coffee and cigarettes

Up for inspection / consideration

127 hours, Panic room, Reservoir dogs, Usual suspects, Phone booth, Misery, The man from earth, Room 1408, 12 angry men, Das Boot, From dusk till dawn, Straw dogs, The shallows, Devil, The sunset limited, Coherence (2013)…

Considered but not approved

Matrix, The shining, Coffee and cigarettes, Air force one, Dr. Strangelove, Festen, Flight plan, Snakes on a plane, Source code, Life of Pi, Ex machina, 10 Cloverfield lane, Inside man, Misery, Alien, 2001, The purge, Knock knock.

Killed darlings

Unthinkable (2010)

Honorable mentions

Waiting for Godot