There are many horror sub-genres, such as supernatural, slasher flick, psychological horror, zombie horror, and so on. One of the most chilling of the horror sub-genres is, however, the home invasion thriller. It is one of the most frightening as it is based in reality. It’s hard to imagine anything more terrifying than the violation of our most rudimentary sanctuary.
The basic principles of a home invasion thriller are simple: a person breaks into someone’s home without their consent and often with malicious intent. The home then sets the scene for an intense battle of survival and outwitting of the intruders. The motives of home invasion thrillers can run the gamut from revenge, obsession, robbery, or even the most disturbing of all, random acts of violence with no motive whatsoever.
If you like the thrill of an intense, adrenaline-pumping game of cat and mouse, then you are in luck. Lock all the windows and doors and turn on all the lights because we have compiled a list of the best home invasion movies of all time.
Update January 24, 2024: This article has been updated by Federico Furzan with even more great home invasion movies and where to stream each title.
15 Fear (1996)
Fear stars Mark Wahlberg as David McCall in one of his first feature films. David becomes obsessed with his girlfriend Nicole (Reese Witherspoon) despite her father’s (William Petersen) disapproval. David’s obsession grows until he eventually brings a group of delinquents to break into Nicole’s home and eliminate her father as an obstacle in their relationship. It’s got a very effective third act featuring a home invasion that takes its time.
Wahlberg at His Best
The gripping home invasion scene keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat until the final credits roll, and it basically works because of Wahlberg’s ability to transform from “bad boy” to murdering monster in a matter of minutes. Roger Ebert claimed the movie “generates genuine psychological interest, with an effective and suspenseful portrait of a family under siege.” Universal Pictures planned a reboot at some point, but then the project evolved into a TV series, details of which remain obscure. Rent on Prime Video
14 The Last House on the Left (2009)
The Last House on the Left is a remake of the 1972 controversial film by Wes Craven of the same name. It features a family vacationing at their lake house. When their teenage daughter Mari goes out with a friend for the evening, things take a terrifying turn. The girls cross paths with a group of sadistic criminals and end up fighting for their lives. Mari eventually escapes and finds her way home, but not before the criminals themselves end up on her doorstep. Seeking refuge from the severe weather, the group unwittingly descends upon the family home and are taken in. Shortly thereafter, Mari is discovered by her parents (Monica Potter and Tony Goldwyn), and it doesn’t take them long to find out that their unexpected house guests are responsible for harming their daughter. The evening turns into a blood bath as the couple fights for survival while simultaneously seeking vengeance for Mari.
Revenge Film Done Right
This is an insanely violent film that’s among the most underrated horror remakes. It came out in March 2009, following the release of My Bloody Valentine 3D and Friday the 13th, so it got a little lot in the shuffle of discussion, grossing a respectable $32 million domestic. Yet it featured plenty of gory torture that lived up to the R-rating, and the films trailer using a cover of Guns N Roses “Sweet Child of Mine” by Taken by Trees easily earns it a spot on this list. Rent on Apple TV
13 The Hand that Rocks the Cradle (1992)
When a successful obstetrician commits suicide after accusations of sexual assault, his wife (Rebecca De Mornay) takes revenge on the first victim to have come forward, Claire Bartel (Annabella Sciorra). Mrs. Mott miscarries upon hearing the news of her husband’s suicide and blames Bartel for losing her baby. She subsequently poses as nanny “Peyton Flanders” and attempts to move in on Claire’s family. In the suspenseful climax, Peyton breaks into the home, intending to kill Claire and take her place as the matriarch of her family.
Rebecca De Mornay at Her Best
The Hand That Rocks the Cradle was an extremely successful box-office hit in 1992, as viewers were fascinated with De Mornay’s performance. De Mornay was nominated for Best Actress at the Saturn Awards and won Best Villain at the MTV Movie Awards. This is a very memorable thriller from the ’90s that immediately makes you ask the question: “Could this actually happen?” Rent on Prime Video
12 Hush (2016)
Release Date March 12, 2016
As if a home invasion isn’t scary enough, in Hush, the protagonist Maddie (Kate Siegel) is a deaf-mute who is being stalked in her home by a masked killer with a crossbow. The killer toys with Maddie by sending her pictures of herself. When Katie realizes she is being stalked, she tries to contact the police, but her assailant cuts the power and slashes her tires. What follows is an exercise in tension by the master of modern horror, Mike Flanagan.
Flanagin Proves Himself an Expert in Tension
Hush does an excellent job of emulating Maddie’s experience as a deaf person, which makes the film even more creepy. The film has a great sound design, or more like lack of sound, to put the viewer in the main character’s point of view so at any moment, something bad could happen, and there is no warning like audiences expect from jump scares. Siegel did extensive research into the portrayal of a deaf person in preparation for her role; however, the film was still met with criticism from the deaf community, including deaf actress Millicent Simmonds of A Quiet Place. In any case, it’s an extremely effective indie film that doesn’t require much to catch the viewer’s attention. It earned praise from horror author Stephen King and the late great William Freidkin. Hush isn’t available to stream at the moment
11 Kidnapped (2010)
The Spanish horror thriller Kidnapped is a movie based on a very simple premise. Jaime and Marta are moving into their new home. Emotions collide when Isa reveals herself to be a bit more rebellious than her parents thought, and Jaime and Marta go through a series of discussions when suddenly a trio of thieves break in.
A Sick Visit to Hell Itself
Kidnapped is a powerful statement of a movie meticulously designed by Miguel Angel Vivas, a director who understands the craft and uses the camera in ways that are anything but traditional. The film, one of the best in the kidnapped subgenre of thrillers, is so tense that it resembles the pioneering style of the New French Extremity movement. Don’t feel embarrassed if it gives you goosebumps. It’s supposed to. Stream on Shudder
10 Wait Until Dark (1967)
Audrey Hepburn earned an Academy Award nomination for her performance in the 1967 home invasion thriller Wait Until Dark. Hepburn plays Susy Hendrix, a blind woman whose husband mistakenly intercepts a doll full of heroin. Three men later come for the doll after Sam Hendrix has left for work. The ruthless criminals use Susy’s blindness against her to terrorize her while in pursuit of the drugs. Once Susy realizes she is in danger, she tries to level the playing field by destroying all the lights in the home.
Slick Thriller by the Hands of Very Good Performers
If you’re into well-designed, perfectly crafted third acts, Wait Until Dark is right up your alley. Apart from memorable performances by Hepburn and Alan Arkin, the film is cleverly put together to produce anxiety on viewers who will surely identify themselves with the “poor girl,” but this one evolves to be anything but standard. It may seem outdated, but it’s a film that you will enjoy mostly because of Arkin’s interpretation of a cold-blooded maniac. Stream on Tubi
9 You’re Next (2011)
In a surprising horror thriller from Adam Wingard (The Guest, Godzilla vs. Kong), You’re Next follows a family that is getting together to celebrate their parents’ anniversary. While celebrating, a trio of animal mask-wearing murders starts picking off the family members, one by one, without knowing that Erin, the girlfriend of one of the family members, is specifically trained for moments like this.
Cautionary Tale for Home Invaders
You’re Next is an incredibly gory film with tons of edge-of-your-seat suspense. The film is a great example of the mumblegore moment, of which we didn’t exactly see many films, but Wingard made sure to include two important figures of the movement, A.J. Bowen and Joe Swanberg, in what’s essentially a flawless thriller that pushes its boundaries to deliver a film you won’t easily forget about. Stream on Cinemax
8 Panic Room (2002)
Panic Room recounts the tale of a recently divorced mother (Jodie Foster) and daughter (Kristen Stewart) settling into their new home, which is soon invaded by a group of thieves. Mom and daughter take refuge in the panic room. Little do they know, the prize the thieves seek is contained within the same room. The stakes are raised when a group of burglars attempts to break into the panic room, harboring the mother and daughter.
An Underrated David Fincher Joint
Fincher’s Panic Room is one of his best films that people take for granted. Its tone is very interesting, and it features three very effective antagonists that, through the power of a very good script, manage to compel the audience beyond the trope of “invaders.” Cinematography is essential to the film; it’s very well-edited, and it’s led by two very good actors who embody the perfect roles of victims turning into heroes. With Kristen Stewart now being one of the most exciting stars working today and Jodie Foster recently being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Nyad, it is worth checking out. Rent on Apple TV
7 Black Christmas (1974)
In Black Christmas, everything starts with a phone call. During Christmas preparations, a sorority house receives a call, and one of the sisters evidences the mischievous nature of one very sick individual. Right after, one of them gets murdered in a very gruesome manner, putting everyone in a state of alert for what seems to be a serial killer. The film features an incredible cast with Olivia Hussey (Romeo & Juliet), Keir Dullea (2001: A Space Odyessy), and Karen Allen (Raiders of the Lost Ark)
Underrated Slasher Triumph
Bob Clark’s early slasher film is an extremely underrated film that set the standard for many of the rules of the genre. But deep in its plot of intrigue, there is a home invasion film. If you’re familiar with it, then you know what the twist is all about. And if you’re not, give it a try. You’ll find out that its surprise ending is a lot more eerie than that of many films of its era. While it has been remade twice, first in 2006 and then again in 2019, neither version has lived up to the original. Definitely, a Christmas classic for those like to have a spooky time during the holiday season. Stream on Freevee
6 The Strangers (2008)
The Strangers stars Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler as a young couple who fall victim to a trio of deranged masked assailants who terrorize them in their vacation home. Brian Bertino, the writer and director, states the film’s premise was inspired by two real-life crimes: a string of break-ins from his childhood and the gruesome Manson Family murders. Recovering after this one will be a challenge because of the film’s realism.
We Don’t Need No Motivation
The film is terrifying because there is no apparent motive for the crimes. During the tense final scenes of the movie, Kristen (Tyler) asks the masked killers why they are targeting them. The response was simply: “Because you were home.” That terrifying randomness is a fear that anyone has, that they can be attacked in their home for no reason at all.
The Strangers also spawned a sequel titled Strangers Prey at Night, starring Christina Hendricks and Martin Henderson, but it was sadly forgotten quickly as it had little to no connection to the first film. Now, a new trilogy with all three entries is scheduled for release in 2024. The first film, The Strangers: Chapter 1 will open on May 17, 2024 and stars Madelaine Petsch and Froylan Gutierrez, two friends who have to stay at an Airbnb who are attacked by the masked killers. It is clear that this is a simple yet effective premise that makes for a good horror franchise that speaks to everyone’s fears. Stream on Netflix
5 No One Will Save You (2023)
The newest entry to the list. Brian Duffield’s horror experience of 2023 takes viewers on a wild ride that resembles nothing they’ve ever seen before. In the film, Brynn (Kaitlyn Dever) is a socially awkward girl who lives in a big house on the outskirts of town. One night, as she was sleeping, Brynn witnessed strange lights and sounds coming from outside. She wakes up, but it’s already too late. They’re already inside.
One Performer Executes an Entire Concept
Right from the start, No One Will Save You proves it’s an extremely different film from others. Kaitlyn Dever is the film’s star, and she’s able to carry the zero-dialogue journey all the way through to the end with the necessary tension. The movie is a great mix of a home invasion with a literal alien invasion, where the aliens are played as mix of sci-fi horror and almost demonic possession. The result was one of the best films of 2023 and a truly great original sci-fi horror film. Stream on Hulu
4 Us (2019)
Release Date March 14, 2019
In Jordan Peele’s Us, protagonist Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) revisits her childhood home with her husband and children. She soon begins to have a strange feeling that something terrible is going to happen. Her fears soon materialize when four masked strangers break into the beach home and force the family into survival mode. The plot thickens when the intruders remove their masks, and they each resemble one of the four family members.
A Perfect Horror Thriller with Not a Second of Filling
Like Peele’s horror debut, Get Out, Us uses political and social metaphors as the backbone for his film. However, when compared to Get Out’s theme, in Us, the horror theme is much more oriented to a supernatural aspect, this time having to do with an expansion of an urban legend that just gets stronger and more relevant. Lupita Nyong’o has, undoubtedly, the best performance of her entire career. Stream on Prime Video
3 Cape Fear (1991)
Release Date November 15, 1991
Cape Fear is a remake of the 1962 film starring Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum. It tells the tale of disgruntled ex-convict Max Cady (Robert De Niro) seeking revenge on his lawyer Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte), who he suspects betrayed him. He begins stalking Bowden’s family and even breaks into their home. When the family retreats to their houseboat for safety, Cady soon follows and intends to unleash hell upon the family.
A Master Director Experimenting with the Genre
Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Cape Fear is one of his few underrated films that hasn’t gotten more love throughout the years. It’s very well-acted, and it features a third act that will give you chills with the depiction of a villain that seems all-mighty and impossible to defeat. It stands very close to horror, and it could possibly be Scorsese’s closest approach to a scary film. De Niro’s Max Cady is an all-time underrated villain that we need to appreciate more. The film is also responsible for the creation of the Sideshow Bob episode of The Simpsons titled “Cape Feare”, which is one of the best in the entire series. Stream on Showtime
2 The Gift (2015)
The Gift tells the story of Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca hall), a grieving couple who decide to move to a suburb in order to overcome the emotional pit they’re in. But then Simon runs into an old acquaintance. Gordo (Joel Edgerton) is a figure from Simon’s past who immediately insists on connecting with the couple. When he starts to drop in unannounced to leave some presents, the couple realizes some friendships are not worth revisiting.
A Great Display of Craft
Masterfully directed by Joel Edgerton, who also plays Gordo, the film is a slick thriller that submits the viewer to a realistic premise that then turns into a horrific tale about power and revenge. With wonderful performances by Jason Bateman and modern scream queen Rebecca Hall, it’s a fantastic home invasion thriller that will leave you shaking with its unsettling and open conclusion. Stream on Tubi and Freevee.
1 Funny Games (2007)
Funny Games is an Austrian psychological thriller about a pair of young men who entertain themselves by torturing a family through sadistic “games”. It is incredibly violent and disturbing. In 2007, an English version of the film was shot for shot, starring Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, and Michael Pitt, who gave amazing performances. Audiences seem divided on which version they prefer, but you can’t go wrong with either.
Shot-for-Shot Remake That Was Worth Remaking
It’s very rare to see a remake being a worthy endeavor, both for filmmakers and audiences. However, Haneke’s Funny Games works in many ways. It’s a great readaptation with a higher production value, and he does anything but sacrifice his vision to make a friendlier film. 2007’s Funny Games is a gruesome and ruthless attack on the senses that features two cynic characters being evil just because they’re allowed to. Haneke also empowers them by allowing them to break the fourth wall, rewind the film itself when things don’t go right, and submit the viewer to a nihilistic hell that no one will forget. Stream on Kanopy
To wrap this up, here’s a video about some very disturbing films starring famous actors: