The following is a guest post by Maria Ramos.
When it comes to horror films, none terrify us quite as much as home invasion horrors, in which the security of our home is compromised when we face the threat of outsiders who want to terrorize and murder. While this subgenre of horror has been bringing the scare for several decades, we’re also aware that they were only as scary as the right time and place allowed them to be. In light of today’s modern technology, we assert that films such as those listed here, if remade, would need significant plot changes to remain appropriately terrifying.
When a Stranger Calls (1979)
This movie worked well in the late 1970’s, when caller ID technology was still in its infancy and not yet widely available to the average household. Based on an urban legend, the story tells of a babysitter receiving terrorizing phone calls from a killer using the upstairs phone line inside the house. If remade today, significant plot revisions would be required to provide the same level of terror, taking into account that the babysitter would immediately know via caller ID that the killer was calling from within the house.
Funny Games (1997)
The boys next door are psychopaths in this home invasion thriller, preying on rich families at their lakefront vacation homes. They not only find their way into the homes, they destroy the phone lines, some of the food, and eventually each member of the family and any pets through a particular set of sadistic games with very set rules. In today’s world, cell phone technology could have meant the difference between life and death for the hapless victims of the original, requiring significant changes to the plot. In the original, there was only one phone in the house while today, there would most likely be at least one for each family member, with the possible hidden older Android or iPhone tucked into a drawer somewhere. While the film was remade in 2008, the only discernable difference seems to be a stronger emphasis on the breaking of the fourth wall that was a unique element of the original.
Wait Until Dark (1967)
This classic stars Audrey Hepburn as blind housewife Susy who is beset by three criminals in search of a cloth doll that was used to conceal several bags of heroin, which was dumped on her husband when the original carrier panicked. The criminals’ initial break in of the apartment may have been the end of the story if the film were remade today, given the likelihood of a blind woman’s New York home having a home security system in place. The security system would have tripped the alarm, leaving Hepburn’s character safe and with relatively little to do for the remainder of the film.
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
This Stanley Kubrick production tells the story of a dystopian near-future of Great Britain, and is as much a commentary on youth violence and the criminal justice and rehabilitation system as it is a form of entertainment. With Malcolm McDowell in the starring role, the film has become a cult classic. Were it to be redone today, however, significant plot changes would necessarily involve either much more tech-savvy criminals who could find ways around the security cameras that would inevitably be in the homes of their rich and powerful victims, or a different set of crimes altogether, ones that don’t involve such lofty targets.
Straw Dogs (1971)
Young couple David and Amy, played by Dustin Hoffman and Susan George, respectively, move to Amy’s small village hometown and choose to live in an isolated farmhouse in need of repairs. The home invasion comes in the form of several local men, one of whom is Amy’s ex-boyfriend, and later, from several townsfolk-turned-mob. Had the 2011 remake taken into account the remarkable resources of the internet, providing at the very least a way to background check the repair men hired for the farm, it may actually have received more than a lukewarm reception.
There is no doubt that home invasion movies are effective in scaring the bejesus out of most of us. However, these types of films are only as relevant as the times they portray. Today’s technology simultaneously protects the victims of these stories in ways they weren’t previously protected and at the same time, calls for more tech-savvy criminals if the films are to be effectively scary.
Which is your favourite home invasion movie? Share in the comments below!