The Top 10 Creepiest Places in the Movies
5. The Nostromo - Alien
Source: 20th Century Fox
Before Alien hit the big screen in 1979, most movie spaceships (besides the Millennium Falcon-which was basically a bachelor pad with a hyperdrive) were clean, beautiful vehicles shepherding handsome heroes to far-flung planets for adventure and the occasional make-out session. The genius of Alien is that it posits that any organized space exploration by humans would probably involve dirty work instead of glamorous adventure. The ship in the movie (called The Nostromo) accordingly is a dingy, grimy place that has more in common with an oil refinery than an interstellar luxury liner of the kind popularized by Star Trek and the like. Full of grit, steam, noise, and corners dark and scary, it made the perfect place for a newly born hostile alien to rip people to pieces. As it pursues the shrinking crew through the hulking ship, it takes full advantage of every shadow and cranny. And so does director Ridley Scott.
4. The Bedroom - Paranormal Activity
Source: Paramount Pictures
The 2007 sleeper hit ghost flick Paranormal Activity showed how even the most mundane places can look scary as hell if a director knows what he's doing. A perfectly normal bedroom in the light of day isn't all that creepy. But take that same bedroom and bathe it in nightvision and cover it in shadows, and you've got yourself one terrifying location. Like other low budget horror flicks, Paranormal Activity couldn't afford to splash out on expensive CGI and costumes but that works to its advantage. If it wanted audiences to be scared, it was going to have to do it the old-fashioned way. With a well-placed camera, a little noise, and a whole lot of dark. The boring location works so well because it's so familiar. If demonic evil can occur in this thoroughly average bedroom, maybe it can happen in yours.
3. The Bates Motel - Psycho
Source: Universal Pictures
By itself, the dingy, rundown Bates Motel doesn't look like much. Underused and dilapidated, it almost fades into the black and white Arizona sunshine of Alfred Hitchcock's most famous film. Sure, the guy who runs it is a creep and something very, very terrible happens in one the rooms, but overall, it's pretty forgettable. That is until you see the supremely unsettling house up on the hill behind it. Seemingly transported from some dark, foggy place back east, it looms over the little motel like a beacon of unspeakable horror. (Or, like a domineering mother might loom over a timid son. Hmmm.) It stands on the hill as a warning to any weary traveler who may consider stopping at the Bates Motel. You may be tired, it says, but maybe you'd better wait for the next motel.
If only poor Marion Crane had listened.
2. The Bathroom - Saw
Though the increasingly irrelevant yearly sequels have needlessly complicated and expanded upon the original, the first Saw was a masterpiece of simplicity. Two men wake up chained to opposite sides of one of the most horrible bathrooms in the world. Everything they need to escape is there, plus one dead guy, as long as they follow the instructions of their absent captor. The concept is clever enough on its own, but it's the bathroom that sells it. Old, bathed in a sickening fluorescent light, and home to at least one dead guy, it looks like a place where hideous life and death games are played out. Even more terribly, it looks like a place where no matter how much you scream, no one is ever coming to help.
1. The Outlook Hotel - The Shining
Source: Warner Bros.
There are a lot of creepy, unsettling things in Stanley Kubrick's 1980 masterpiece The Shining. Jack Nicholson's psychotic twitchiness, Shelley Duvall's mousy terror, and that kid's bowl cut go a long way to creating an atmosphere of fear and dread. But none of these things are anywhere near as terrifying as the Overlook Hotel. With its endless, empty halls, maze-like designs, and sterile cleanliness, it looks exactly like a place where horrible, horrible things have happened and will continue to happen. Captured by the predatory gaze of Kubrick's Steadicam, the hotel becomes the central character of the movie. It stalks, confines, and constricts the characters until there is no hope for escape. As the movie builds to its bloody climax, there's no mistake that while Nicholson is the one running around with an axe, the Overlook Hotel is the real killer.