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isolation films

A Bit Of Quality Time

Top 15 Isolation Films

Culture

Well it's a bit grim so in the hope of seeing the best by looking at the worst, here's some movies where the characters are socially distanced for a variety of reasons.

We don’t want to make light of this COVID-19 situation but we all have to stay entertained and it’s important for those lucky enough to be simply tasked with staying inside that you get some perspective. At least warlocks aren’t attacking your house at nightfall, or you’re not stuck on a greenhouse in deep space, or you suspect one of your housemates is an alien species who has assumed human form. Depends where you are in the country, we guess. Anyway, here’s our pick of the best movies featuring severe social distancing.

 

15. The Omega Man (1971)

A far schlockier and therefore superior film to I Am Legend, the Will Smith adaptation of the book by Richard Matheson. This one stars Charlton Heston in the last man on earth role. Alright, Heston turned out to be a prick, but this films remains absolute quality as he drives around a deserted Los Angeles picking up supplies and then picking off the warlock zombie things that come out at night. It is a shame that Heston turned out to be such a massive prick because he really used to be immensely watchable in these 70s sci-fi movies. Shame. Prick.

14. Arctic (2018)

In which the world’s most attractive man (according to Mrs Book of Man), is stranded in the Arctic after a plane crash and has to make a series of life or death decisions to try to escape his predicament. Ok, he is in the company of an injured fellow passenger but since she spends most of the film babbling incoherently or passed out, then this counts as a solo trip. A gripping, near-silent film full of the kind of tips you want to remember but never would if you too were the world’s most attractive man stranded in the Arctic.

13. 127 Hours (2010)

In which James Franco gets his arm trapped under a rock in a canyon, with nothing but a film camera for company. Oh, and a blunt pocket knife. Danny Boyle makes this a dazzling experience where the idea of being trapped and alone is a metaphor for modern human existence. Or it may just be a chance to see a guy cut his own arm off – cool!

12. Enemy Mine (1985)

Weird choice we know, but this is a personal favourite from the 80s, an under-appreciated gem by Wolfgang ‘Das Boot’ Peterson about Dennis Quaid getting stranded on a hostile planet with an alien soldier. The alien lizard guy is played by Louis Gossett Jr, and as the pair overcome mutual distrust and disgust as the battle to survive the elements, it becomes a surprisingly weighty and moving film, with a message of tolerance as elegantly laid out as more lauded films like ‘The Defiant Ones’ or ‘Hell in the Pacific’. We’re not going to say it’s a work of art, but it’s a damn good movie. Trust us on this one.

11. All Is Lost (2013)

Robert Redford has been having aa late career resurgence (not that he ever really had a dip), with a string of top drawer lead performances, and none more so than this one, in which he plays a sailor who has a collision with a shipping container at sea which damages his boat and forces him to pull on all his resources and imagination to survive. Absolutely gripping from start to finish, where death is always one wrong choice away.

10. Castaway (2000)

Of course this has to be in here, Tom Hanks, Wilson, and years and years on an island. Still heart-wrenching and captivating, all nine hours of it. Although now it looks quite the ideal circumstances to see through a pandemic.

9. Lifeboat (1944)

Alfred Hitchcock classic with a story by John Steinbeck this is about a group of British and American stuck in a lifeboat in the Atlantic after their ship and a U-boat sink each other. They pull a German survivor onboard, who seems quite nice actually, at first. With the entire film set aboard this tiny environment the film was a technical triumph and a typical Hitchcockian masterclass in suspense and wit. Nowhere near as good as ‘Vertigo’ but still great.

8. Moon (2009)

Duncan Jones’ instant classic stars Sam Rockwell as a man on his own in space looking forward to getting home to his wife…until strange events in his isolation makes him think he’s going insane, or worse. Hmmm.

7. Eyes Without A Face (1960)

Arguable whether this one fits the brief but Christiane, the young girl without the face, is undeniably socially excluded because, well, she hasn’t got a face, although her scientist father is certainly working on that; abducting young women so he can take their faces does slows things down a bit. Georges Franju’s quite astonishing film is one of those that still haunts your waking hours years later.

6. Silent Running (1972)

Classic sci-fi featuring counter-culture legend Bruce Dern as an ecologist running a greenhouse in space after all plant life on earth has died out. After ditching the humans to preserve his greenhouse when it becomes under threat, he heads out into space with just his robot companions for company. The directorial debut of Douglas Trumbull who was the special effects whiz behind 2001, Close Encounters, Blade Runner etc etc. This may be his career high through, absolutely inspired.

5. Repulsion (1965)

Roman Polanski’s 60s classic with Catherine Deneuve as a woman with a fear of men (no wonder, considering the director), going slowly insane in her London flat. The scene with the hands coming out of the walls is worth nothing just in case you’re after a sign of your own shift into full-blown madness.

We plumped for this over Performance (1970), the other great ‘going mad in a London residence film, just because the amount of sex involving very attractive people in that one hardly makes it a journey into anxiety.

4. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

We’re not putting ‘A Quiet Place’ in here, it was solid but nothing special. Unlike this, the original ‘barricade yourselves in against the enemy’ film, in terrifying black and white. The living try to survive a zombie outbreak hole up in a house and try not to let the zombies know they’re there while dealing with each other too. Gripping, smart, still the king of all zombie films. If not the very best…

3. Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Much like the zombies themselves, this film just won’t die. Undoubtedly the greatest zombie film ever, and a classic on every level which seems to resonate afresh with each generation. Watching it right now is chilling again, It’s not just the fear of being infected by whatever the zombies have, it’s the fact everyone, including the living dead, can’t stop shopping.

2. The Thing (1982)

Who’s infected and who isn’t? We are all now living in ‘The Thing’ basically. Paranoia abounds in which we fear our fellow beings in case they have been taken over by an killer which can’t be detected as face value. John Carpenter’s best? Not just that but the best film of the 80s: tense, shocking, unforgettable. Perhaps the blood test scene is worth trying at home to pass some time with the kids. “You gotta be fucking kidding…”

1. The Shining (1980)

Is it a good idea or a bad idea to watch this if you’re holed up with your wife and kids? A good idea! It’s oddly reassuring. Sure you may have thrown their home school work in the bin in a fit of pique when they don’t listen to you, but at least you haven’t started chasing them around the place with an axe. Yet.

The greatest film of all time. Fact.

Conor Benn

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