Narrowing it Down: 11 Great Movie Scenes Set in Corridors

Some of the most memorable movie sequences take place in the most unremarkable of locations: a simple corridor. Here are our favorites...

Darth Vader in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

This article comes from Den of Geek UK.

One of the thrills of seeing a movie in the theater is seeing huge, expansive action scenes play out on the big screen. But sometimes, the best way to ratchet up tension and produce a truly memorable sequences is to set it in a small, narrow space instead.

If you’ve seen John Wick: Chapter 3, you’ll know that some of the most impressive fight scenes take place in the narrow spaces of a library or an antique store (that is a use of a book we had not previously considered).

It prompted us to celebrate some of the greatest scenes in the movies set in the confined spaces of corridors and hallways. It’s notable that a number of these are fight scenes – because nothing makes a fight feel more brutal and close-up than setting it in a confined space.

Ad – content continues below

Inception Corridor Scene

Inception

Is it a fight scene? Yes.

What’s special about it?

There’s plenty of weirdness in Inception caused by the nature of the dream state by itself, like buildings and streets folding over each other for no particular reason. But one of the film’s most impressive action sequences has a little more logic to it than that. With protagonists on three different dream “levels,” each deeper than the last, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Arthur is left in a fancy hotel guarding the bodies of his sleeping friends, while his own body (and theirs as well) is also in a van on a higher dream level, being driven by Dileep Rao’s Yusaf. Still with us? Good.

read more: Inception Ending Finally Explained

When Yusaf is attacked and has to pull some dramatic maneuvers in the van, Arthur’s body is thrown around. This causes his dreaming brain to imagine the entire structure of the hotel being thrown around (everyone else is presumably too deep to feel it). While Arthur fights for his life against the defenses of his target’s brain in humanoid form, he also has to deal with a constantly shifting centre of gravity. All of this culminates in the entire corridor rotating while Arthur scrambles to keep the upper hand and keep himself alive.

Watch out for… All the while the corridor is rotating, the actors are playing out a fight scene as carefully choreographed as you might expect from any fight scene, having to hit their marks while keeping track of where up is – the fact they pull it off is truly impressive.

Ad – content continues below

Lucy Corridor Scene

Lucy

Is it a fight scene? In theory yes, though there’s not a lot of actual fighting involved.

What’s special about it?

Okay, to be fair, Lucy has a distinct advantage over most of the others on this list, as she has super powers (or, technically, the power of the ordinary human brain unleashed). In terms of fighting prowess, Scarlett Johansson’s better known alter ego Natasha Romanov makes a more impressive showing in Iron Man 2.

However, the lack of actual fighting doesn’t make Johansson’s Lucy’s showing in a hospital corridor in Paris any less impressive. Lucy has done plenty of fighting over the course of the movie, but as her powers increase (as well as her understanding of those powers), she finds herself having to do less physical heavy lifting. The scene in which she simply puts all her opponents on the ceiling in the hospital corridor is an impressive moment that demonstrates just how powerful she is becoming.

Watch out for… Just as she steps into the corridor, we are informed that Lucy has now unlocked 60% of her brain’s power. We know something impressive is coming.

Ad – content continues below

The Matrix Corrridor Scene

The Matrix

Is it a fight scene? Yes – though “shoot-out” out would be more strictly accurate.

What’s special about it?

Technically this scene takes place in a lobby, but close enough. Keanu Reeves’ Neo’s request for “guns – lots of guns” has become iconic, and here we see what he wanted those lots of guns for. Neo and Carrie-Anne Moss’s Trinity go through nearly all the very large bags of guns they’ve brought with them in this one scene, in their bid to rescue their mentor, Laurence Fishburne’s Morpheus.

read more: What Went Wrong With The Matrix Sequels?

As Neo and Trinity shoot their way through a bunch of goons, bits of Matrix-green-tinged plaster and stonework fly around them like paper and bullets dance on the ground. Neo’s bullet-dodging on the roof may be the climax of these scenes, but this tense, packed shoot-out is what builds enough momentum for that to have the impact it needs.

Watch out for… Trinity quickly adjusting her sunglasses after doing a characteristic slow-mo flip in “bullet time.”

Ad – content continues below

Us Movie Corridor Scene

Us

Is it a fight scene? No, but it is intercut with a dramatic one-on-one fight scene.

What’s special about it?

We’ve talked before about how inherently creepy ballet is – bodies twisted and tortured into completely unnatural shapes in the pursuit of beauty. As Jordan Peele’s Us moves into its twisty-turny climax, the initial creeping horror has started to move towards broader action – but here that action is blended with psychological horror and the particular eeriness of ballet to bring its final twist home.

read more: Us Ending Explained

One of the key themes of Us is the way those above live in freedom with space to move, while the Tethered below are cramped into dark, crowded tunnels and trapped in lives not of their choosing. The key reveal plays out through a ballet recital in which Madison Curry’s younger version of Lupita Nyong’o’s character living above ground is able to spread her limbs and leap across the stage in her ballet recital, while the version living below is forced to do what she once loved within the confines of a dark, narrow corridor.

Watch out for… The other Tethered starting to notice that the girl they’re watching is doing more than just echoing what’s going on above the surface.

Ad – content continues below

2001: A Space Odyssey Corridor Scene

2001: A Space Odyssey

Is it a fight scene? No.

What’s special about it?

2001’s vision of space travel in far off future of, er, the early 21st century was based on the hard sci-fi concept of using centrifugal force to simulate gravity. Basically, by keeping your spaceship or space station spinning all the time, it may be possible to simulate the effects of gravity around the outside of the spinning centre.

read more – 15 Things You Didn’t Know About 2001: A Space Odyssey

There are several scenes in 2001: A Space Odyssey that show off the trippy effects of this idea. A big inspiration for Inception’s fight scene, Stanley Kubrick used the same technology to create a rotating corridor and several scenes throughout the film show actors moving around rotating sets. It’s hard to single one out, but we’re going to suggest the brief scene in which Keir Dullea’s Dave Bowman and Gary Lockwood’s Frank Poole walk from one rotating corridor into a differently rotating exit. It’s simple, but very effective (and far from simple to shoot with entirely practical effects).

Watch out for… The moment when Frank goes down a hatch, but it looks like he’s floating straight upwards.

Ad – content continues below

The Shining Corridor Scene

The Shining

Is it a fight scene? No, though there is blood.

What’s special about it?

Given that The Shining is a horror movie set in a hotel, there are plenty of dramatic and tense scenes that take place in (horribly decorated) corridors. The one you’re probably thinking of, though, is another iconic scene from another Stanley Kubrick film (the man loved his corridors), one that it has been copied and parodied so much it’s sometimes hard to remember just how chilling it is in its proper context.

read more: How The Shining Examines the Immortality of Evil

Little girls are, like ballet, inherently creepy. Ghosts are definitely inherently creepy. So little girl ghosts are extremely creepy. How could they possibly be any creepier? They’re also identical twins! Speaking in unison! Wanting to play! Creepiness factor up to 11 – and the fact that they are standing in, and completely blocking, a narrow corridor just makes the whole situation even worse for poor Danny.

Watch out for… The use of blood in the original is nothing as spectacular or flashy as the riff on it we see in Ready Player One, but all the more disturbing for appearing in brief flashes only just long enough for us to make out the girls’ bloodied bodies lying on the floor.

Ad – content continues below

Ex Machina Corridor Scene

Ex Machina

Is it a fight scene? Briefly.

What’s special about it?

A lot comes together to make this scene as tense and affecting as it is. The direction of the scene, mostly slow movements with sudden bursts of violence, keeps the tension high. The acting from Oscar Isaac as Nathan, Alicia Vikander as Ava and Sonoya Mizuno as Kyoko is note-perfect; Ava asks Nathan, “Are you ever gonna let me out?” and he says “Yes”, but she doesn’t believe him and neither do we. At first, the violence put us on Ava’s side, as we see Nathan brutalize her. But then the tables are turned as Kyoko stabs him in the back and what was a scene of already disturbing abuse becomes even more disturbing calculated murder.

read more: Ex Machina Had a Freaky Alternate Ending

The special effects are also essential to making this scene work. We’ve talked about a lot of scenes that rely primarily on practical, in-camera special effects here, but in Ex Machina, it’s the digital special effects that make this special. Ava’s translucent, mechanical form is completely believable, and that absence of humanity and impossible physical form is an essential aspect of this dramatic conclusion to this story of artificial intelligence.

Watch out for… Nathan’s response to seeing Ava loose in the corridor is an F-bomb. He knows his creation better than Domhnall Gleeson’s Caleb did.

Ad – content continues below

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Corridor Scene

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Is it a fight scene? Yes – a wizard duel, no less.

What’s special about it?

Most of the corridors we’ve looked at have been narrow spaces, that use confined, close quarters to increase the tension. The passageway through the Ministry of Magic, however, could give the dwarf halls of Moria a run for their money when it comes to sheer cavernous space. The location for the only direct showdown between Voldemort and Dumbledore is, however, a corridor, albeit a very fancy wizard’s one.

read more: Where to Watch Harry Potter Movies Online

This is the only all-out duel between adult, fully trained wizards – the two most powerful wizards in the world – in the original eight movies. That’s a lot to live up to, but this fight sequence, in which the two go at each other with fiery dragons and floods of water, hits the mark with a flair. The most chilling moment of all, though, is when Voldemort turns his attention to young Harry, leaving Harry writhing like a snake on the floor. Shudder.

Watch out for… What really ticks Voldemort off is when he tries to rip Harry and Dumbledore to shreds with shards of glass, only for Dumbledore to convert the glass into sand. Glass is made from sand, kids. This has been your science lesson for the day.

Ad – content continues below

Titanic Corridor Scene

Titanic

Is it a fight scene? No, though it is an action scene of sorts.

What’s special about it?

Films about sinking ocean liners lend themselves to dramatic action scenes in corridors as water fills the passageways of the ship. The Poseidon Adventure features Gene Hackman struggling to help a young boy escape from a sinking corridor and any movie about the RMS Titanic will include scenes of trapped passengers washed down corridors and, following the classic 1963 film A Night To Remember, scenes of third-class passengers trapped below decks behind caged and blocked corridors.

read more: 26 Incredibly Arduous Film Productions

James Cameron’s Titanic is no exception, with plenty of scenes of trapped third-class passengers and an homage to The Poseidon Adventure featuring a small boy. But Titanic also offered a more unusual, but equally tense, corridor scene earlier in the sinking. Rose, having run up and down several passageways through lights that flicker on and off and finally acquired an axe with which to free Jack from handcuffs (long story), discovers the corridor leading to him has been almost completely flooded. Unable to reach the floor and holding the axe high, Rose’s awkward passage down the corridor provides a new spin on the old getting-washed-down-a-corridor sinking ship trope.

Watch out for… Rose’s small cry as her boobs hit the freezing cold water (ouch!). The water is cold. It’s been mentioned before. It will come up again.

Ad – content continues below

Oldboy Corridor Scene

Oldboy

Is it a fight scene? Oh yes.

What’s special about it?

One man against many fight scenes are not known for their realism – after all, in real life, no matter how skilled a fighter someone is, anyone comprehensively out-numbered is likely to lose. When movies pit one man against many, they are usually offering some form of fantasy, whether the hero literally has super-powers, or is just an implausibly good fighter like John Wick.

Oldboy’s famous corridor fight scene, however, offers a grittier approach. Min-sik Choi’s Dae-su Oh is heavily outnumbered, but his route out is brutal and includes a couple of heavy beat-downs. The camera angle is a big part of what makes this scene special, as filming everything in profile allows us to see the queue of people making their way along the narrow corridor to attack Dae-su Oh – not to mention, of course, the narrow corridor justifies the bad guys taking him on only a few at a time despite their superiority in numbers!

Watch out for… The knife clearly sticking out of Dae-su Oh’s back as he gets up and fights on, his opponents repeatedly asking in disbelief, “Is he dead?”

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Darth Vader Scene

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Is it a fight scene? Yes, though “epic smackdown” might be a more accurate description.

Ad – content continues below

What’s special about it?

This scene presents Darth Vader as a force of nature. The frenetic scrambling down corridors as smoke billows and emergency doors close has more the feeling of an industrial accident like Chernobyl or Titanic than a space opera, as anonymous men in helmets and boiler suits desperately scramble to get out. As men fight to get through a narrow crack in a closed door, the sounds of screeching metal alert us to a new danger…

read more: Complete Guide to Star Wars Easter Eggs in Rogue One

And Darth Vader appears, heralded by his distinctive heavy breathing. Vader’s fight scenes in the original Star Wars trilogy were rather basic in terms of the actual fight choreography, while none of the prequels showed him fighting in his full Vader form – they were all Anakin’s fights, not Vader’s, all pre-helmet. For long time fans, the chance to see Vader at the height of his powers, fighting with a lightsaber in an energetic, beautifully choreographed scene was breath-taking. Setting it in a narrow corridor just made it all the more exciting.

Watch out for… Though primarily using a lightsaber, Vader manages to get his favorite Force choke move in there as well.

Honorable mention

The elevator fight scene from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Technically an elevator is not a corridor, but it’s a sort of a… moving, up-and-down-y sort of corridor? Ahem. It’s an awesome scene, anyway.

Ad – content continues below

And a TV shout-out… This list has been focused on movies, which is why there’s no entry for Jessica Jones or Daredevil here. But we can’t finish without at least mentioning Inside No. 9’s “Zanzibar,” a tour de force set entirely in a hotel corridor and all delivered in iambic pentameter. Shakespeare would have been proud.

Have we missed out any of your favorite movie corridor scenes from our list? Let us know in the comments below!