Agoraphobia: “Woman In the Window” & Other Films

The three films addressed in this post all have a main female character with agoraphobia, defined by Psychology Today as “a fear of any place where escape may be difficult, including large open spaces or areas with crowds, as well as various means of travel.”

Furthermore, each of the featured agoraphobic characters is either a mental health professional and/or being treated by one.

I. The Woman in the Window (2021)

In addition to Amy Adams as a child psychologist with agoraphobia, cast members include Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman, and Anthony Mackie. The not-a-rave critics’ consensus, per Rotten Tomatoes? “A milquetoast and muddled thriller that drowns in its frenzied homages, The Woman in the Window will have audiences closing their curtains.”

Although little is explained about Anna Fox’s (Adams) condition, she never leaves the house. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, notes that Anna is continually “in a moody haze induced by the anti-anxiety drugs her shrink (Tracy Letts) has prescribed for her, which she pairs with copious amounts of red wine.”

Naturally, the shrink sessions have to be in her home that she never leaves.

One of her main preoccupations is looking out the window (of course), which leads to seeing something very disturbing.

Any reference to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window is strictly intentional: early on we catch a glimpse of James Stewart’s face, in all its neurotic postwar glory, on Anna’s TV screen. His Jeff Jefferies is her dream twin, a man who has come to prefer the prurient watching of life to actually living it.

Zacharek describes this Netflix film as “a modern gothic tale of obsession, voyeurism and possible madness.” The real suspense, she adds, is whether Anna will “ever be able to bring herself to go outside again.”

II. Agoraphobia (2015)

This horror flick is new to streaming (Amazon Prime).  According to Pophorror.com, it “tells the story of an agoraphobic who inherits her father’s house in a remote part of the Florida Keys. Afraid to go outside, she discovers that there’s something far more terrifying trapped inside the house with her. Cassandra Scerbo plays the role of the agoraphobic, Faye, and Tony Todd plays her psychiatrist, Doctor Murphy.”

As Faye’s husband will be gone a lot because of his work, a woman is hired to keep Faye company and tend to the house. Significantly, “Even looking at the view outside from her safe walls causes anxiety and panic attacks” (filminquiry.com).

Unfortunately, inside the house doesn’t feel safe either: lots of weird and scary things ensue. From filminquiry.com:

Is it Faye’s mental illness playing tricks on her or is there something more sinister going on? As the lines begin to blur between her illness and the paranormal, strange things start to occur in the home. Is she just paranoid? Is someone messing with her on purpose? Is there another presence in the house that no one is aware of?

III. Copycat (1995)   

Filmfare.com rates this thriller as one of the best films that deals with agoraphobia.

Psychologist Helen Hudson ( Sigourney Weaver) suffers from agoraphobia after being harmed by a serial killer, but when another killer starts copycat killings, cop MJ Monahan (Holly Hunter) asks her for help. This new killer is a fan of famous serial killers of yore….He develops a thing for Helen and begins stalking her big time. Helen deduces that he has been following the list of serial killers in the same order as she has been presenting them in her lectures and she tries to work out where and when he will strike next. What follows is a cat and mouse chase between the hunter and the hunted.

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