5 Siege Films To Keep You On The Edge Of Your Seat

Welcome to Yippee-Ki-YAY, a regular column that celebrates action cinema in all its glory. This edition looks at five action-packed — and utterly terrifying — siege films. 

Theme nights are big in my household. To break up the monotony of the day in, day out lifestyle, my wife and I like to choose a thread found between some of our favorite films and it adds a lot to a night of marathoning film after film. One of our favorite themes to revisit time and time again is that of the siege film subgenre. Whether our survivors are convicts, punk bands, or people trying to fight off hordes of zombies, watching a siege film is always something I enjoy doing, the pressure cooker approach to most of them hits home with me, with my lifelong fear of home invasions and not having somewhere safe to go. I thought I’d take the five films we decided to marathon and open a conversation regarding which siege films you readers might prefer, so please, comment below with your favorites. Enjoy!

5) The Void (2016)

Cults, a literal hell and a lot of practical effects, Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Konstanski’s The Void is like Assault On Precinct 13 meets Hellraiser, and that works so well. Though a bit uneven at times, The Void does a great job of giving gore hounds their share of creature design that rivals The Thing for the amount of “how did they do that?!!” moments. Like Assault On Precinct 13, this one sees a group working in a soon-to-be-abandoned hospital, and the place is soon taken over by sinister cult members, a revenge-heavy duo, and a devilish doctor looking to open hell, all at the same time.

Combining the practical effects mastery with some great performances by Aaron Poole, Twin Peaks’ Kenneth Welsh as well as an ensemble of others, The Void makes you feel like you’re stuck inside of a blender of Lucio Fulci, Clive Barker, and John Carpenter, spinning around until you quite don’t know where you are, but you like what you see. It might be somewhat confusing at times, but there’s so much to love about this one. It’s just so striking to look at, and the tone and mood of the film just hit the spot for this writer. Give this one a shot if you’re looking for some trippy siege greatness.

4) Night of the Living Dead (1968)

The grandfather of all zombie films, George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead might be mostly known as a flesh-eating gem, but it’s also one of the best siege films of all time. The film, which sees a group of survivors stuck in a house being attacked by the recently risen undead, is a gruesome look at racism and how people can turn on each other when put into situations of life and death. Duane Jones steals the film as Ben, a man not only trying to survive but trying to rally the group of survivors into working together to get through the night.

A great example of utilizing what you have to tell a great story, Romero’s thematically rich film is worthy of the praise it always gets. It’s a great addition to any siege marathon you might want to have. Double feature this one with Tom Savini’s remake and you have a one-two punch of flesh-eating ghouls and people coming apart.

3) Green Room (2015)

Already making his genre mark with the hilarious Murder Party and the meditative Blue Ruin, Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room is a film that, even with its fairly recent release date, is already considered a siege classic, and rightfully so. It’s one of the most intense theatrical experiences I’ve ever had. When a touring punk rock band has a show fall through, they’re set up with a paying gig just out of their way, a show that ends up being at a neo-Nazi compound. Scared but ready to show the skins how punk rock works, the band decides to cover the great “Nazi Punks Fuck Off,” and piss the racists off. Before they can leave when their performance is over, the band witnesses a murder, trapping them in the venue’s green room, with quite a few neo-nazis wanting to get through and get rid of all witnesses.

The violence in Green Room is gory and it makes you feel each character’s death. The kills are almost anti-climatic and that works so well for the film; it feels real, intense, and hard to watch. Being led by a charismatic yet evil as all hell character played by Patrick Stewart, the skinheads and their attacks force the band (led by an excellent Anton Yelchin) and the friend of the murdered girl to respond with the same aggression and violence that is being thrown their way. It’s a brutal film and one that stays with you for quite some time, definitely one to watch.

2) Straw Dogs (1971)

A classic film full of revenge and survival, Straw Dogs follows David (Dustin Hoffman), an American mathematician, and his English wife, Amy (Susan George), who move back to her home village in an attempt to start over. Already somewhat fractured of a relationship, things are made worse when Amy’s ex-boyfriend and his loud and obnoxious friends are hired to fix their garage, adding to resentment between David and Amy. Angry that Amy went and married an American, the ex-boyfriend takes David hunting, ditches him there, and then proceeds to, along with his friends, rape Amy.

When an accidental killing brings a developmentally challenged individual to David and Amy’s place, the ex-boyfriend and his friends show up, ready to break in and kill everyone, causing the pacifist David to turn into the very animal he tries so desperately to separate himself from.

Sam Peckinpah’s film isn’t an easy watch. The rape scene is uncomfortable, to say the least (as it should be) and the violence is realistic and in your face. But what makes Straw Dogs so effective is how unflinching it is at showing how violence can force you into reacting with the same amount of venom.

1) Assault On Precinct 13 (1976)

John Carpenter’s second feature hits all the right spots for me. A loose take on both Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo and Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, Assault On Precinct 13 follows a police officer assigned to watch over a soon to be closed precinct, which is soon under attack when the father of a murdered little girl shoots and kills a member of a local gang. Already angry as hell at the police force for slaughtering their fellow crew members, the gang arrives, weapons ready, to destroy the precinct and everyone inside of it.

While Carpenter’s debut, Dark Star, is entertaining, Assault On Precinct 13 showed how talented the director was, giving audiences one hell of a ride, filled to the brim with excellent performances from Austin Stoker, Darwin Justin, Laurie Zimmer, and Nancy Loomis as some of the people trapped inside the station, fighting for their lives.

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