Home Invasion and Hollywood Cinema: David Fincher’s Panic Room



The title of one of Hollywood’s top-grossing films for 2002, Panic Room, communicates the magnitude of the word “panic” in current Western cultural discourses. Panic Room further suggests its political relevance post-9/11 by depicting the failure of the eponymous room’s intended function as a sanctuary from the violence of a home invasion. Panic Room conveys contemporary concerns with personal and national security by representing the contradictions and tensions that exist during times of unrest. Filmed before but released after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Panic Room serves to critique both the security industry and the media’s “culture of fear.”3 By representing misplaced and confused fears concerning personal safety, Panic Room highlights connections between domestic and national security. As with director David Fincher’s other films, such as Fight Club (1999) and Se7en (1995), Panic Room depicts a dystopian urban space, imperfect institutions, and an individual’s struggle to formulate an independent identity. While Panic Room utilizes familiar narratives of terror to endear itself to spectators, it also undermines these conventions by providing resistive subtexts that are intertwined with the themes of Fincher’s other films.


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  1. 2.
    Barry Glassner, The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things (New York, NY: Basic Books, 1999), 54.Google Scholar
  2. 29.
    Jack Shaheen, Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People (New York: Olive Branch Press, 2001).Google Scholar

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© Dana Heller 2005

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