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The Ladies of ‘Evil Dead’ – Awesome Photos Unite Franchise Legends and ‘Evil Dead Rise’ Newcomers

Gothic castles and faraway cabins are classic genre fare, but there’s something to be said for scary movies that tell stories about claustrophobic urban environments and the horrors of being isolated despite being surrounded by densely packed neighbors. Not only are these stories more relatable for big-city folks like myself, but they’re also uniquely positioned to deliver down-to-earth scares with a social twist.

And in honor of Evil Dead Rise brilliantly relocating the action to an LA apartment building, we’ve decided to come up with a list celebrating six of the best Apartment Horror movies. After all, there’s nothing scarier than finding yourself trapped in a high rise with nowhere to go but down!

In the interest of keeping the list varied, we’ll be leaving out a few obvious entries like Candyman and Rosemary’s Baby, as I think we can assume that most of our readers have already seen these. And if you’re hungry for more Apartment Horror, I’d also recommend checking out Jim Mickle’s Mulberry Street, which we already covered in another article.

With that out of the way, don’t forget to comment below with your own favorite apartment horror flicks if you think we missed a particularly spooky one.

Now, onto the list…

6. The Toolbox Murders (2004)

While he’s best remembered for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Tobe Hooper’s filmography is much more varied than most people realize, with the late director helming horror projects well into the 2010s. One of the most underrated of these movies is his unorthodox remake of Dennis Donnolly’s The Toolbox Murders, which follows a teacher as she investigates a series of homicides in an old Hollywood-hotel-turned-apartment complex.

We’ve already discussed how the film’s troubled production left Hooper incredibly frustrated and how the finished picture is technically still missing footage, but it’s still one hell of a unique slasher with more than its fair share of brutal deaths. Plus, the apartment location gives it an urban edge that you don’t usually see in this kind of genre flick.

5. Citadel (2012)

From Ils to Eden Lake, hoodie horror became incredibly popular in Europe during the mid-2000s, leading to some excellently grounded genre pictures. One underseen gem from this movement is Ciarán Foy’s Irish/Scottish thriller Citadel, an atmospheric psychological horror flick about an agoraphobic father protecting his infant son from a seemingly supernatural gang of evil teenagers that haunt a condemned tower block.

Shining a light on the horrific consequences of gentrification and social isolation, Citadel is a much denser film than its humble budget would have you believe, relying on surreal visuals and compelling performances to tell a gripping story that’s sure to send chills down your spine if you’ve ever had to walk home by yourself at night.

4. Poltergeist 3 (1988)

Taking place in a Chicago high-rise instead of suburban California, Poltergeist 3’s urban frights may be overshadowed by its troubled production and the tragic death of its 12-year-old star, but looking back on it decades later reveals a surprisingly efficient supernatural thriller. Following Carol-Anne as she moves in with her Aunt and Uncle and continues to be hounded by paranormal forces, the film isn’t exactly a masterpiece (especially when compared to the first entry in the franchise), but it’s certainly never boring.

Gary Sherman puts on a veritable showcase of practical effects here that are still impressive today, and even studio interference couldn’t diffuse the star-power of the talented late Heather O’Rourke. All in all, the flick makes me wish we had more apartment-set ghost stories in the west.

3. Dream Home (2010)

Part slasher flick and part darkly comedic character study, Pang Ho-cheung’s Dream Home uses its urban setting to explore the human consequences of China’s housing crisis. Telling the story of a hardworking young woman with the dream of purchasing a waterfront apartment, the film follows the ambitious Cheng Lai-sheung as she embarks on a killing spree in an attempt to drive property values down, with the murders being intercut with the events that led her to this extreme course of action.

The non-linear storytelling and heavy-handed social commentary might put off some viewers, but Dream Home remains an insanely stylish and entertaining horror flick that isn’t afraid to linger on its main character’s flaws, with Josie Ho turning in a career-making performance as a desperate woman with nothing left to lose.

2. Dark Water (2002)

Hideo Nakata is already horror royalty due to his involvement in the Ringu franchise, but the director was also responsible for another J-horror classic that was popular enough to warrant an American remake. A deeply claustrophobic tale about a single mother protecting her child from paranormal phenomena stemming from a leak in their rundown apartment, 2002’s Dark Water is a must-watch for fans of Japanese scary movies.

Not only is the film creepy enough on its own merits, refusing to pull any punches regarding its dark subject matter, but it would also gain online notoriety after True Crime fans began to compare the tragic events of the flick to the mysterious real-life death of Elisa Lam at the Cecil Hotel.

1. REC (2007)

A frantic Found-Footage masterpiece following a news crew as they accompany a group of firemen into a Spanish apartment complex, [REC] doesn’t just make zombies scary again, it makes cramped apartments seem genuinely terrifying. From the confused neighbors to the terrifying government response, the cinematic chaos on display here is just further proof that POV cinematography can be used to revamp familiar frights.

Featuring some of the best use of claustrophobic living spaces in genre cinema, [REC] is a top-tier example of Found Footage done right and one hell of a scary time. And if you enjoy this one (as I’m sure you will), be sure to check out the sequel, which takes place immediately after the first one and continues to explore the terrors of this doomed apartment complex.