The coronavirus is proving to be a difficult time for us all. Toilet paper shelves are emptying at breakneck speed in grocery stores everywhere. Hand sanitizer is being hoarded and resold for a higher price by capitalist assholes. Young people who have the option to either stay home and be considerate to vulnerable people — like the immunocompromised and the elderly — or go out are still choosing to go out because they don’t have enough brain cells to access their own empathy. It’s a trying time for people all over the world, and it couldn’t be more trying for those of us who are horny.
But releasing pent up sexual frustration doesn’t have to be something done with a Tinder date (and it can’t be, because of social distancing). We all have the means to get off in isolation, be it by yourself or stuck quarantined with a partner. Although it doesn’t always go as favorably as planned.
Here are 12 films to watch that understand — in one way or another — how frustrating (and even lethal) it can be to be isolated and horny.
The Lighthouse (2019)
If you’re stuck on an island with Willem Dafoe and the only sexual thing you can think to do is jerk yourself off to the porcelain rendering of a mermaid, I feel like you’re already pretty far gone. But that’s what happens with Robert Pattinson’s lighthouse keeper Thomas Howard in Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse, as his mind slowly decays over the course of a raging storm while trapped with fellow wickie Thomas Wake (Dafoe). As their rations steadily deplete along with their sanity, their obvious sexual desire for one another becomes as furious as Wake when Howard tells him he ain’t fond of his lobster. They share a moment at one particular point in the film where it seems like their urges are finally about to overtake them, but Howard would rather succumb to his own visions of mermaid vaginas. Going stir-crazy never felt so slippery.
What happens when a troupe of dancers already horny for one another gets their communal punch bowl drugged and they lose their collective minds? Self-explanatory, really. There’s some murder, a little bit of mindless shrieking, some writhing around, some incest. The usual stuff, nothing crazy. Climax actually makes the best case possible for social distancing, showing us what happens when too many horny people are in one confined space together. The film truly has no more plot than that; it’s 96 minutes of unhinged screaming, gyrating, and utter perversion, as the dancers’ mental stability putrefies into total deviance. We should actually be more worried about the potential for quarantined orgies during the age of self-isolation than the global pandemic.
High Life (2019)
Perhaps the preeminent horny and isolated film, in High Life Juliette Binoche’s character has an entire room on her spaceship dedicated to masturbating. You can’t get any more isolated than in outer space, especially when the purpose of your space mission is to not only use prisoners serving life sentences to find alternative energy via a fucking black hole but to use said prisoners to create a child through artificial insemination. Except, the thing is, none of the prisoners are actually allowed to fuck each other. They can only masturbate in the aforementioned “Fuck Box,” despite occasional sexual advances from constantly horny, extremely morally corrupt Dr. Dibs (Binoche). It’s all a bit claustrophobic, and some don’t take as kindly to the anti-fuck rules as others (R-Patz doing just fine in this as opposed to The Lighthouse), but it’s true what they say: In space, no one can hear you cum.
Yes, it’s true: you can be metaphorically isolated and horny as well, like in this movie where a bored housewife (played by Carey Mulligan) decides — shortly after her husband leaves her and their teenage son to fight the wildfires outside a small, remote town in Montana — that she’s gonna let loose, baby. She’s gonna neglect her son, baby. Women can be just as reckless as men; that’s what equal rights are all about, baby. Jeanette Brinson has been isolated by the societal expectations of women all her life, and what happens when she’s freed from the confines of her own domesticity and loveless marriage? Well, maybe exactly what you’d expect. She starts dressing up like a little hoochie and seeing a wealthy older man in town, before eventually leaving her old life behind and becoming a teacher in Portland, Oregon. Unfortunately for some, being married to a man that looks like Jake Gyllenhaal is not enough to quench their desire. Sometimes personal freedom is an aphrodisiac of its own.
Swiss Army Man (2015)
Getting stranded on a deserted island and befriending a talking, magical corpse might not be everyone’s ideal romance scenario, but that’s definitely the case for Hank and Manny in this film about what happens when you fall in love with a dead body. Ok, it’s a little more nuanced than that. After getting lost at sea, lonely Hank Johnson finds a corpse that washes ashore on the island where he’s been stranded and is about to kill himself, but the corpse turns out to be a little more than just that. It has a powerful amount of flatulence that propels Hank from the island as he rides it like a motorboat, eventually landing them back to shore. Their journey home is thus fraught with bizarre sexual tension, as Hank relearns his previously toxic understanding of love, companionship, and self-acceptance. While out in the wilderness, the pair even learns that Manny’s erect penis can act as a compass to guide them home. Arousal in times of struggle can actually be quite productive.
In this film about a “quirky” Greek family too afraid of exposing their children to the outside world, a woman is regularly hired to sexually satisfy their adult son. Yorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth surrounds a mother, father, their two daughters and their son, the latter three of whom have been holed up in a fenced compound their entire lives and have never ventured out of it. The parents mislead their children about the true meaning of certain words, reward them with stickers for good behavior and punish them with violence for bad behavior, and tell them that they may leave the compound only once they lose a dogtooth (either their right or their left). But the parents recognize that their son has reached an age when he’s developed certain needs that must be satisfied, and so the father hires a lady security guard from his work to do so. Not for the daughters, though — why would ladies ever get horny? Of course, things go a little off the rails when the two sisters do get involved with said security guard and they all start…licking each other. None of this would fly in the real world right now (no fuckin’ around with strangers during the quarantine), but it’s a great reminder that no matter how bad things get, incest is never the answer.
Creep 2 (2017)
Living all alone in the wilderness can prove frustrating for a serial killer. Sure, luring victims out there like lambs to slaughter is a hassle, but it’s easy enough (people are pretty gullible). But what about luring one into a romance? That’s where things can get tricky, but that’s what happens when Josef (now renamed Aaron) hires a young videographer with a failing web series, in which she befriends strangers on Craigslist, to film him for an entire day. Unlike the first Creep film where Josef pretends to have brain cancer and hires a man under the pretense of filming a series of videos for his fake unborn son, the second Creep installment is simply fraught with sexual tension between Josef and the videographer, Sara. He immediately reveals to her that he’s a serial killer and wishes to discuss his life and his 39 kills in her episode. And in what feels like some sort of strange variation of Stockholm syndrome, the two strip naked in front of one another, share a moment in Josef’s Jacuzzi, and eventually kiss. But it’s all a bit too much when he eventually digs his own grave and wants them to die together. Perhaps, he should’ve just ordered a body pillow.
Black Narcissus (1947)
Believe it or not, this was actually the very first movie to explore themes pertaining to just what happens when you’re isolated and horny (don’t try and look that up or anything). While residing in a convent on a mountain in the Himalayas, a mission of Anglican nuns attempting to set up shop for the local people must deal with the adverse effects of living in such a secluded, inhospitable place. Tensions rise in close quarters, as the nuns clash with the locals and each nun begins unraveling to one ailment or another. Sister Briony falls ill, Sister Philippa plants veggies in the flower garden (crazy!), Sister Honey commits, uh… full-on manslaughter, all the while ambitious Sister Clogdagh attempts to keep order. But it’s Sister Ruth who was the OG horny girl — a goddess walking among sexually frustrated women everywhere. She falls so hard for the general’s agent Mr. Dean that she loses her fucking mind. Sister Ruth literally died for the dick.
As it’s been already proven, isolation and horniness can often lead to murderous tendencies when combined into such an unholy concoction. In this classic horror film adapted from the Stephen King novel of the same name, obsessive novel fangirl Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) traps romance novelist Paul Sheldon (James Caan) in her home after he gets caught in a blizzard. Though claiming to be his number one fan, Annie only just discovers that his recently-ended series about a character named Misery Chastain, has done away with the leading lady in the final installment. Thus, in a fit of rage caused by this belated discovery, Annie imprisons Paul and forces him to write a continuation of the series where Misery comes back to life. Though no outward signs of horniness, it is simply implicated within the subtext of the film. Every crazy fangirl wants to fuck their idol, and sometimes that must come out in the form of smashing their idols’ ankles with a sledgehammer. Shit happens.
Duck Butter (2018)
When two dissatisfied women set up shop in one of their houses for 24-hours of on-the-hour fucking, things go a little off-the-rails. Though the isolation is voluntary, as they’re desiring to get to know each other in a decidedly unconventional way, it’s yet another example of how, even with someone around to help you release all your sexual energy, being stuck with them for an extended amount of time can produce unfavorable consequences. While initially impassioned with one another, Naima and Sergio’s respective patience slowly runs out throughout the course of the film, Sergio’s unwieldy free-spiritedness clashing with Naima’s inherently more reserved nature. Getting out of one’s comfort zone via staying inside and fucking a stranger for 24 hours doesn’t seem like it would be someone’s first option to do so, but it produces one very important conclusion: free-spirited people are terrors that walk among us.
Another film about women enduring the oppressive, sexist standards of society and, similarly to Wildlife, about both physical and metaphorical isolation. Premiering at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, Shirley is a fictionalized bio-drama about famed horror author Shirley Jackson, who wrote such works as The Haunting of Hill House and the short story “The Lottery.” In Shirley, a young couple with plans to temporarily room with Shirley and her husband, Stanley, find themselves soon embroiled with their hosts’ tumultuous relationship. More specifically, Shirley and the young wife Rose, who, though initially repelled by one another, form a romantic, sexual bond through their mutual suffering. While Shirley is cast aside by society due to her strange, erratic behavior, Rose, doting housewife, is neglected by her academia-minded husband, Fred. Thus, they become the queens of self-isolating, finding solace in one another instead of with their husbands. When you think about it, women have been self-isolating from the incompetence of men for years.
The Lobster (2015)
A group of lonely people are shacked up in a hotel and have 45 days to find a forever mate before they’re turned into the animal of their choosing — but they’re not allowed to masturbate. Another film from Yorgos Lanthimos, in this dystopian black comedy, single people are simply not allowed to exist, and partnership is mandatory. And though they are inexplicably not allowed to get themselves off while desperately searching for someone at the hotel to fall in love with, they are, however, required to be sexually stimulated by the hotel staff. So basically, everyone’s miserable, horny, alone, and full of dread that if they don’t find a suitable mate within the allotted time frame (and one who shares a distinguishing trait with them), they become a dog or some shit for the rest of their then-shortened lives. It’s a high-pressure situation and everyone is susceptible to going a little bit mad (I would too if I had to be constantly jerked off by a stranger).