architectureandfilmblog: 13 HORROR FILMS FOR ARCHITECTURE /…



Happy Halloween, folks…

1. THE SHINING (1980)

Stanley Kubrick created an impossible floor plan for the Overlook Hotel, so that architectural discontinuity would subtly unnerve the audience. He also added a maze to the resort (and to Stephen King’s story).  The interior style of the Overlook was based on the 1927 Ahwahnee Hotel, while exterior shots featured the 1939 Timberline lodge.

2. DON’T LOOK NOW (1973)

One of the most unsettling of all ‘city’ films. After their daughter drowns, Laura and John Baxter travel to a wintry Venice to work on an architectural restoration. The city becomes a spatial manifestation of their grief and confusion, as the water which embodies that initial tragedy winds insidiously around them.

3. DARK WATER (2002)

Few movie settings have been as sinister as Yoshimi and Ikuko’s haunted, waterlogged, concrete apartment. The film was later remade in the US, but the original Japanese version, and the Brutalist building in which it is set, are far more atmospheric and chilling.

4. DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978)

George Romero critiques and satirises consumeristic mall culture in this influential zombie flick, which is set in an out-of-town shopping centre. “Why do (the zombies) come here?” “Instinct… this was an important place in their lives”…

5. 28 DAYS LATER (2001)

There are few cinematic entities more compelling and unsettling than a familiar city stripped of its residents. For the sequence in this clip (in which Cillian Murphy wanders through a deserted London to the strains of Godspeed You! Black Emperor) Danny Boyle took advantage of the fact the the sun rises at about 4.30am in British Midsummer.

6. CUBE (1997)

This cult Canadian film was inventively shot on a low budget within a single small cube. Lighting was changed to simulate the myriad booby-trapped spaces through which the characters move as they attempt to escape their mysterious imprisonment. A simple and effective bit of 90′s indie minimalism.


The theme of greed and insensitivity within suburban property development is addressed directly (and none too subtly :-)) in this Steven Spielberg classic. A tract of housing is laid right over a cemetery, and the unwitting residents of one property find themselves besieged by its restive spirits.

8. ALIEN (1979)

The film may be first and foremost a sci fi rather than a horror, but H R Giger’s spectacular extra terrestrial remains one of the greatest monsters in movie history.


This film stars the 19th Century Dakota Building, on Central Park West. Obviously, legendary resident Adrain Marcato was never actually attacked out front, because he was fictional, but in a tragic coincidence, a real-life occupant of the building was: John Lennon.


Frank Lloyd Wright’s oft-filmed Ennis House replaces the more genre-traditional gothic mansion in this classic horror film. Unfortunately the interior sets bear little resemblance to the rooms found in Wright’s actual building.


This genre-busting opus may be many additional things, but if doesn’t qualify as  a horror movie, I don’t know what does. Visually spectacular, it was filmed mostly around London, and featured examples of Brutalism at both it’s best and worst. The stylish dystopia  capitalised on the more negative connotations of a monolithic concrete environment-namely its potential to feel bleak, authoritarian, and indifferent to human suffering.

12. CLOVERFIELD (2008)

A group of young New Yorkers navigate Manhattan, and its subway tunnels, after a monster attack. The  towers of Skidmore Owings and Merrill’s Time Warner Centre provide a central post-apocolyptic set piece.

13. HIGH RISE (2016)

“How’s the high life?” “Prone to fits of narcissism, mania, and power failure”… Tom Hiddleston moves into a luxury 70′s apartment tower, and faces some grim and gory consequences, in this adaptation of J G Ballard’s dystopian novel.

And let’s not forget: SUSPIRA (1977), CANDYMAN (1992),  REPULSION (1965), WHEN A STRANGER CALLS (2007), THE OTHERS (2001).