The Worst Places to Be Stranded, According to the Movies
Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, now on home video, is a powerful film about the sheer horror of being lost in space. Until you get the chance to see (again) how Sandra Bullock and George Clooney manage to survive with limited air and no connection to home base while 375 miles above the Earth, here are some other utterly terrifying places to get stuck…with little chance of getting out alive.
By Perri Nemiroff
The deep blue sea (Open Water)
There are some major downsides to being all alone just about anywhere, but stranded in the middle of the ocean, with no boat, hungry, and exhausted? You’d think it couldn’t get much worse than that, but then poor Daniel and Susan realize they actually do have some company -- sharks. Making the scenario in Open Water even more horrifying is that it’s loosely based on a true story.
A ski lift (Frozen)
Dan, Joe and Parker were kind of asking for it. Not only did they cheat their way into getting a third lift ticket, but then even though the lift operator warns them that the mountain is closing due to a coming storm, the trio still whines their way to getting one last run. If only they’d known that last run would be filled with broken bones, frostbite and hungry wolves.
A roller coaster (Final Destination 3)
This one is a toss-up. A roller coaster could very easily stall on level track and leave you to pass the time on your phone until you’re pulled into the station. But there’s also always the chance you could be as unfortunate as Wendy and her friends in Final Destination 3, whose cars instead barrel through a viciously malfunctioning ride and stop upside-down at the top of a loop.
A stalled elevator (Devil)
M. Night Shamalamadingdong’s tale of the Devil punishing folks for their sins in an elevator turns out to be rather silly, but the setting of Devil still has an effect simply because the unnerving idea of being trapped in an elevator is universal. Whether you think twice before stepping in one or not, the second that box makes one jolt out of the ordinary, everyone inside is bound to be wondering...what if?
The subway (Midnight Meat Train)
When you’re all alone in any public space that’s normally swarming with people it’s inherently disconcerting, but thanks to Ryûhei Kitamura’s Midnight Meat Train, riding the subway at the wrong hour just isn’t an option. The travel-in-packs policy won’t even help you here. If Mahogany is on board and his meat hooks need filling, he’s got no problem giving his massive tenderizing mallet a few extra swings.
Creepy motels (Vacancy)
If you want to avoid starring in a snuff film like the helpless victims in Vacancy, here’s prime advice; make sure the place has at least a few positive Yelp reviews. If it doesn’t, perhaps it’s because no one’s made it out alive. Another viable strategy? Stick to motels with cell service because really, what motel doesn’t have service other than ones with murderers on the loose hoping to make a buck off your demise?
Caves (The Descent)
Whether your subterranean adventure involves flesh-eating humanoids or not, the risk of getting lost in an uncharted cave system just isn’t worth it. Even before the ladies of The Descent go up against the vicious creatures, someone has a panic attack, someone else breaks a leg, and a portion of the cave collapses, sealing the group inside. Throw in some friend-stabbing, crawler-killing and a lovely little blood bath, and you’ve got the worst gal pal bonding experience ever.
Six feet under (Buried)
On the other hand, you'd probably rather take on a gang of underground humanoids than be trapped in a box with no way of physically fighting for your life. It’s a wonder poor Paul Conroy didn’t have a total meltdown after mysteriously waking up buried in a box with a lighter, cell phone and nothing more; however, even though he did have his wits about him, there’s just so much he can do when he's dependent on people above ground to help.
A nightmare (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
The worst part about this one is that ultimately, there’s no controlling it. Chug all the caffeine you want; when your body needs sleep, you’re going to sleep. At least Insidious’ Dalton can somewhat control his trips into The Further. In A Nightmare on Elm Street, once you drift off to sleep, you’re totally on your own to face Freddy.
A cabin in the woods (The Cabin in the Woods, Evil Dead, Cabin Fever …)
Remote cabins in the woods offer the opportunity to disconnect, swim in lakes, build fires and enjoy nature, but is all of that worth potentially being attacked by the Buckners, raped by trees or infected by a flesh-eating virus? When you deliberately isolate yourself for the sake of a quick getaway, something bad is just bound to happen. Keep yourself in arm’s reach of medical and law-abiding assistance. Creepy gas station attendants and dubious sheriffs do not count.
A quarantine zone (REC, The Crazies)
The troubling thing about this entry is that you’re already in the quarantine zone when you realize you’ve got to get out of it. Poor Ángela Vidal was just doing her job when she was locked in a Barcelona apartment, and even if David from The Crazies chickened out, left Judy in Ogden Marsh and hopped on that bus, the quarantine still would have gotten him.
Your Own Home (Disturbia)
There is no such thing as the home field advantage when your own home is all you’ve got. You’re better off not riling up the homicidal neighbors when you’re under house arrest because, even if you catch them in the act, what are you going to do about it? Invite them over and attempt a sneak attack? Even if it gets to that point, you’re still at a major disadvantage because there’s absolutely no running away.