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2002 suspense thriller directed by David Fincher and starring Jodie Foster as Meg Altman, a recently divorced woman. A young Kristen Stewart plays her 12 year old diabetic daughter Sarah. They move into a four story Manhattan brownstone which has a fortified "panic room" in case of home invasion. Late at night three burglars (played by Forrest Whitaker, Jared Leto and Dwight Yoakum) break in looking for $3 million in bearer bonds belonging to the previous owner. The two women lock themselves up in the room, but are unable to call for help. Worse yet, the bonds were stored in the panic room and the burglars have no issue going through the new owners to get them.

Moderately successful upon its release, it introduced the concept of "panic rooms" and "safe rooms" into public knowledge.


Contains examples of:

  • Artistic License Chemistry: The propane gas the burglars pour into the panic room (which is then lit by Meg) would fall to the ground instead of sticking to the ceiling as it does in the movie.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Just as it looks as though Raoul is going to murder Meg while Sarah watches helplessly, Burnham, who was previously making a getaway with the money, returns and shoots Raoul in the head, after deciding that he can't just let Meg and Sarah die.
  • Big Fancy House: Seriously, it's a ridiculously huge house for just Meg and her daughter. It even has an elevator!
    • This trope will hit New Yorkers especially hard; people living elsewhere have no idea how much a place like this would cost.
      • Not sure one would be able to point to any example anywhere of a person who thought that was anything less than a hugely expensive house.
      • When Meg and Sarah are being shown the house, Lydia says "He can afford it", meaning that Meg's ex-husband is loaded and this is a way to stick it to him for his affair.
      • Confirmed when Burnham asks Sarah if Meg is rich, to be able to afford the house.

  "Dad's rich. Mom's just mad."

 Meg: Ever read any Poe?

Lydia: No, but I loved her last album.

  • Boom! Headshot!: How Junior and Raoul meet their ends.
  • Closed Circle: Meg and Sarah are trapped in the panic room, and the thieves won't leave until they get the money inside. Later, the situation gets inverted: when Meg attempts to get Sarah's diabetes shots, Burnham and Raoul get inside and lock Meg out. However, Meg also has a gun, and there's only one way out of the room.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: A fair bit of Junior and Raoul's dialogue. Especially when the latter is really mad.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Raoul's treatment of Stephen.
  • Comic Trio: Although they aren't exactly comedic, the burglars fit the role nicely. Junior's the navigator, Raoul is the driver and Burnham's in the backseat.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Evan, the guy showing Meg around the house at the beginning. Also Sarah.
  • Drop the Hammer: Meg uses a sledgehammer on Raoul (his attempt to do the same fails).
  • Epic Tracking Shot - From one floor down to another, through keyholes and coffeemakers.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Raoul's completely casual murder of Junior. Burnham is understandably horrified.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Most of the film unfolds over a single night.
  • Everyone Knows Morse: Sarah learned "SOS" from Titanic, and attempts to signal a neighbor by flashing it through a vent. It doesn't work.
  • Fingore: Raoul (presumably) gets his fingers broken when the panic room door slams shut on them, after he had his hand positioned out of range of the door sensors.
    • Actually he lost at least two of his fingers and most likely broke the rest of them in the door. Once the loot is scored, we see Raoul pick them up while leaving the panic room.
  • Foot Focus: Meg and Sarah spend almost the entire movie barefoot.
  • Genius Bruiser: Burnham is the biggest guy on screen (though he doesn't actually do much fighting), and he is also by far the most intelligent; he shows a level of competence in various fields and a resourcefulness equal to Meg's.
  • Genre Savvy: Generally quite a high level of this is shown by most characters in the film who are not explicitly shown to be quite thick. The only exception being the burglars not breaking the security cameras, though this is lampshaded as a silly thing to have missed.
  • Gut Punch: See Raoul's Establishing Character Moment.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Why is Bella blonde?
  • Hide Your Pregnancy: Jodie Foster was already a few months pregnant when she started filming. The scene where she answers the door and talks to the cop was filmed last and they put a baggy sweater over her.
  • Hope Spot: Several - one of which being when Meg and Sarah think they might have managed to alert one of their neighbors to their plight... and he simply closes his bedroom blinds in annoyance, believing their signal to be a faulty light.
  • Howl of Sorrow: Meg lets out a howl of despair and rage when Raoul starts to severely beat Stephen, while all she can do is watch helplessly.
  • Irony: The fact that a panic room Burnham built is keeping him and his crew from accomplishing their burglary. This is not lost on him.
  • Large Ham: Jared Leto as Junior.
  • Little Miss Snarker: Sarah.
  • Mama Bear: Meg.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted. Meg is shown going to the toilet in the middle of the night and her urinating is audible.
  • Not Quite Dead: Stephen is assumed dead by Meg, until she discovers that, although badly injured, he's still alive.
  • Oh Crap:

  Burnham: Turn the gas off. Turn the gas off right now.

    • Sarah has a similar reaction when she realizes what her Mom was about to do.

  Sarah: Oh my God.

  • Only Sane Man: Burnham.
  • The Other Marty: Originally Nicole Kidman was cast in the lead role and shot a few scenes. She injured her knee while filming Moulin Rouge and was replaced by Jodie Foster. She did end up in the film as the voice of Foster's ex-husband's mistress when she calls him for help.
  • Papa Wolf: Stephen Altman.
  • Police Are Useless: Played with and ultimately averted: Meg calls 911, only to be put on hold. She then calls Stephen for help, only for the burglars to cut the cord, but not before Stephen gets suspicious and calls the police himself. They show up and confront Meg at the front door, and do indeed notice that something is horribly wrong. They later return with a SWAT-squad.
  • Precision F-Strike: Meg is so bad at this her twelve-year-old daughter has to tell her how, and even then she screws it up. On the other hand... (see below).
  • Punch Clock Villain: Burnham. And, unlike Junior and Raoul, he refuses to hurt people.
  • Rape as Drama: Early in the movie, Meg & Sarah are in the panic room looking at the intruders on the closed-circuit TV, Sarah asks why the men are there. Meg replied that the robbers may want to rob them or ... something else. She trails off without finishing the thought, but it's clear that (as she doesn't think there's much of particular value in the house), she is worried about being raped.
    • Later, after Sarah has ended up locked in the panic room with the burglars the first thing Meg says after being reunited is "Did they hurt you? Did they touch you?", in a tone of voice that clearly shows how terrified she was that this might have happened.
  • Rule of Cool: The three dimensional opening credits that look like they're floating above various shots of the New York City skyline.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Junior. It is debatable whether Raoul would have actually let him leave anyway, but muttering loudly to yourself information that shows you've been lying to your fellow criminals is not a good idea.
  • The Stoic: Raoul... at first.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Shooting Junior well and truly dead doesn't stop Raoul from putting another bullet into his head, just because he can.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch: ...Meg does manage this quite well.

 Meg: Put him on the phone, bitch.

  • Trigger Happy: Raoul, although Junior clearly doesn't know just how much of a psychopathic lunatic he really is until it's too late.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Raoul implies that he plans to kill Sarah, and at one point outright threatens to do it.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Meg and Burnham are quite well matched in this regard, and engage in a lot of this as they try to outmaneuver each other.
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