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Want more movies and shows like Squid Game? Add these to your queue
Have you watched Netflix‘s smash hit Squid Game? The South Korean show has drawn a massive global audience, rising to the number one spot on the streaming platform in a matter of days. So, you’re in good company. But once you’ve finished it, what to watch after Squid Game is probably the question on a lot of people’s minds. So, what are some movies or shows like Squid Game?
Squid Game follows a group of contestants participating in a series of games for a huge cash prize. There’s a catch though. If you lose one of the games, you die. It’s brutal, bloody, and a whole lot of twisted fun.
But the death game genre is nothing new. If you loved Squid Game, there’s a whole lot to watch out there that may scratch a similar itch. There are the bigger titles like the Saw and Hunger Games franchises, but there are lots of other titles from around the world too.
So, read on for our breakdown of movies and shows like Squid Game.
The best movies and shows like Squid Game
The 2001 Spanish film Intacto is not exactly a death game film, but it’s in the ballpark, with high-stakes gamblers taking part in increasingly dangerous competitions. But it all takes place in a world of magical realism. The film treats luck as a commodity that can be passed on from one person to another. A shadowy casino owner collects luck from others, identifying people with a surplus and sending his henchman to steal it for him.
When the two men have a falling out, the casino owner steals his henchman’s luck. The latter becomes obsessed with besting his old mentor and seeks out more luck to beat him at a game he’s never lost: Russian roulette. Intacto is a clever and engaging take on the very concept of competition and games of chance. It, ahem, raises the stakes and is a joy to watch,
Alice in Borderland (2020)
Netflix seems to be noticing a pattern and investing in death game shows like Squid Game more generally. Before Squid Game, the streamer had some success with another such series from Asia, the Japanese sci-fi thriller Alice in Borderland.
In Alice in Borderland, a group of characters find themselves in what appears to be a deserted version of Tokyo. There, they play a series of games. Each player has a visa, and when they make it through a game, they get extensions on their visas. As soon as their visas expire, they die. Adapted from the manga of the same name by Haro Aso, Alice in Borderland was enough of a hit that Netflix has ordered a second season.
The Game (1997)
Successful investment banker Nicholas Van Orton seems to have it all. But when his estranged brother rolls into town, his perfect life is put to the test. Nicholas’s brother gives him a voucher for an odd gift: a game hosted by a mysterious company. After a lengthy and irritating screening process, Nicholas’s application is rejected. But soon he’s convinced that the company is toying with him and putting him in danger. Is this all part of the game, or is something sinister afoot?
You might also like: The best psychological thriller games for Android
Director David Fincher crafts a taught and smart thriller that keeps you guessing until the very last scene. While not a huge commercial hit upon release, The Game was very well received by critics and has since gotten a prestigious Criterion Collection release.
Darwin’s Game (2020)
There’s an incredible amount of death game anime. You could easily write a list of shows like Squid Game and keep it limited to anime. For the sake of covering more bases, we’ve kept it to two anime titles, but don’t let that deter you from seeking out more.
Among the popular choices is Darwin’s Game, in which a high schooler starts playing a mobile game, completely unaware that the game has deadly consequences. When he finds out what’s going on, he works with other players to track down and kill the gamemaster.
13 Tzameti (2005)
A dark and gritty realist take on death games, 13 Tzameti was a festival hit when it premiered in 2005. Sébastien, a young struggling Georgian immigrant living in France scrapes by to support his family. When a man he works for dies, Sébastien impersonates him to take on a job he overheard the man’s widow talking about. In a surprising turn, the job is simply to participate in an underground game of Russian roulette, with each successive round getting more and more dangerous. But there’s a huge cash prize that could help lift Sébastien out of poverty.
Director Géla Babluani remade 13 Tzameti as an English-language American film called 13 in 2010, but that version lacked most of the gritty, enigmatic appeal of the original.
- 13 Tzameti is not currently streaming anywhere.
Battle Royale (2000)
Probably one of the better-known death game movies, Battle Royale is based on a hit manga and spawned a successful sequel. Rumors of a Hollywood adaptation of the Japanese film have made the rounds for over a decade, though that project has never materialized — unless you accept claims that The Hunger Games is an American knockoff, but that’s a bit of a reach.
Battle Royale sees a group of school children on a field trip take a detour. Government forces knock them out and take them to an island to compete in a survival game. A strategy to curb juvenile delinquency in a near-future Japan, the battle royale pits the students against each other. Armed with maps and weapons (and fitted with exploding collars that will go off if they stray out of bounds), the kids have three days to fight to the death. Only one student may win and thus survive. The film is incredibly brutal and an edge-of-your-seat experience.
Another international Netflix original that appeared out of nowhere (Netflix’s marketing strategy is truly a mystery), 3% is a Brazilian death game show like Squid Game in a few important ways. Namely, it depicts a death game designed to exploit poverty and desperation. It was also the streamer’s first Portuguese-language original series.
In a dystopian future, citizens of an impoverished society get the chance to improve their lot in life. Once a year, 20-year-olds have the chance to compete in a challenge for access to the “Offshore,” an Edenic community where people can live in comfort and safety, away from the masses struggling inland. Only 3% of contestants get to progress, with many who fail facing death. The process sounds simple, but the system is corrupt. Contestants have to navigate a political maze while fighting for their lives.
As the Gods Will (2014)
As the Gods Will makes such a good pairing with Squid Game that Squid Game creator Hwang Dong-hyuk has actually been accused of plagiarism and ripping it off. (Hwang Dong-hyuk has denied the influence, stating that he wrote Squid Game years before As the Gods Will was released.)
In Takashi Miike’s supernatural horror manga adaptation, school children across Japan find themselves caught in familiar games in which the losers are killed. As they progress through the series of games, kids from different areas are pitted against each other in a gruesome quest to find God and the meaning of life through competition and death.
The Running Man (1987)
A schlocky action classic, The Running Man is pure 80s, Schwarzenneger pulp, and I mean that in a really, truly good way. The Stephen King adaptation imagines a future in which death games are an incredibly popular form of entertainment. A government-run game show, The Running Man, is meant to keep the population pacified and entertained. The reality TV show sees convicted criminals evading “stalkers” who try to kill them on live TV. If the “runners” survive, they earn their freedom and an official pardon.
Check out: The best action movies on Netflix
If that’s not dystopian enough, the show is also a way to get rid of political liabilities. When a police helicopter pilot is framed for a government-sponsored massacre, he’s thrown into the game to tie up loose ends. But with a major platform and a direct line to the whole country, he has the chance to earn his freedom and blow the whistle on everything.
Death Parade (2015)
One of the many anime death game shows like Squid game you can watch, Death Parade takes a slightly different approach. Instead of players competing to survive, they’re already dead when the games commence.
In the afterlife, a group of bartenders act as the gatekeepers for lost souls. When someone dies, they are sent to one of a series of bars, where they play games to determine whether they will be reincarnated or banished into the void forever.
Escape Room (2019)
The Hunger Games proved that you can make a death game movie with a PG-13 rating. But Escape Room goes one step further, making a death game movie that earns its PG-13 rating while staying firmly in the horror genre. I’m a sucker for horror that’s suitable for younger viewers, so maybe I’m biased, but Escape Room pulls it off.
See also: The best scary movies on Hulu
Six strangers receive mysterious boxes in the mail. The boxes are puzzles. Once solved, the recipients find an invitation to participate in an escape room challenge for the chance to win $10,000. Like the participants in Squid Game, what they don’t know is that failure could mean their deaths. With solid performances and a fun premise, Escape Room is a solid choice if you’re still buzzing after Squid Game.
And last but certainly not least: Cube. Cube is a Canadian cult classic, and no death game list is complete without it. Not only did it spawn a sequel, prequel, and TV series, but Cube also launched the career of Vincenzo Natali, who went on to work on Hannibal, Orphan Black, The Strain, Wayward Pines, Westworld, American Gods, The Stand, and more.
The film sees a group of strangers waking up in a mysterious cube-shaped room. The group can wander into adjacent cubes, but each is equipped with traps. Working together, they try to escape this Kafkaesque situation and figure out why they’re here in the first place. While nowhere near as gory as Saw or its sequels, Cube is an obvious precursor to that franchise.
Those are our picks of the best movies and shows like Squid Game to keep you entertained until season 2 of the viral Netflix hit. Also be on the lookout for Netflix’s real-life game show based on Squid Game!