Filmmakers have been taking great pleasure in filling us with dread since the inception of the medium, though over the years traditional horror movies have tended to deal in rational fears rather than genuine phobias. We’re all a little freaked out by the dark, and not many of us can claim that deranged serial killers and demonic entities don’t bring on the heebie-jeebies, though for a phobic movie-goer, terror is always lurking.
Raiders of the Lost Ark might have been a family-friendly affair, but it gave ophidiophobics (fear of snakes) nightmares for weeks, and those who suffer from glossophobia (fear of public speaking) were no doubt squirming every time Bertie sat down in front of a mic in The King’s Speech.
While some films unexpectedly provoke our anxieties, others hone in on them ruthlessly, and one filmmaker that understood how to harness the suffocating feeling of a phobia better than anyone was Alfred Hitchcock.
Lifeboat (1944) was the great director’s ode to claustrophobia, a debilitating anxiety disorder that affects up to 7% of the world’s population in which the sufferer has an irrational fear of having no escape or being closed-in.
The black and white thriller follows the survivors of a German submarine attack as they struggle to find land in a crowded boat, and it captures the asphyxiating nature of claustrophobia brilliantly, a feat that not many films have been able to achieve in the many years since – the few that did comprise this list.