‘The Hunger Games’ (2012)
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Did you like “Squid Game” but wish the whole family could watch it? Then “The Hunger Games” is for you. The YA novel adaptation features a strong performance by Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, one of 24 teens randomly selected to fight to the death in an arena overseen by a games master.
‘Black Mirror’ (2011 - )
For fans who couldn’t get enough of the technology and dystopian vibes of “Squid Game”, let us introduce you to “Black Mirror”. While this entire British series takes a look at the dark side of technology, the 2011 episode “Fifteen Million Merits” stars future Oscar winner Daniel Kaluuya as a man in a society that cycles on exercise bikes to earn “merits” in video game-esque challenges. It’s one of the series’ best episodes.
‘Alice In Borderland’ (2020)
Three best friends are mysteriously transported to an abandoned Tokyo where they must compete in a series of deadly challenges to survive. The Japanese-language Netflix series features similarly violent challenges, executions, and characters you’ll grow attached to, just like “Squid Game”’s motley crew of competitors.
‘The Wilds’ (2020 - )
“The Wilds” is the top choice for “Squid Game” fans who fell in love with characters more than the violence. The Prime Video Canada’s original series follows a group of teen girls stranded on a desert island following a plane crash, unaware they are the subjects of a social experiment. Character development is at the forefront as these diverse young women fight for their survival both on the island and within the experiment. The series was greenlit for a second season in December 2020.
‘Escape Room’ (2019)
Six strangers must work together to, well, escape a series of puzzling and deadly rooms. The 2019 psychological horror is better than it has any right to be and will please fans of “Squid Game” who were into those life-or-death gameplay decisions. A sequel, “Escape Room: Tournament Of Champions”, was released in August.
Since its 1997 release, Canadian sci-fi horror “Cube” has developed a cult following. The film tracks five strangers trapped in a maze of cube-shaped rooms, some of which are rigged with various “Saw”-like traps designed to kill. “Cube” is one of the original "lethal puzzle box" movies, which many that have followed (like “Saw” and “Escape Room”) have used as a blueprint.
‘The Running Man’ (1987)
Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in this film set in a dystopian future America (of 2019) as a man forced to compete on a TV game show where convicts – a.k.a. the runners – must battle killers to secure their freedom in a competition that would please the “Squid Game” VIPs. “The Running Man” is based on the novel of the same name, written by Stephen King and published under his pen name, Richard Bachman. A new adaptation by Edgar Wright has been rumoured to be in the works.
‘Dead Set’ (2008)
What if a zombie outbreak happened during the filming of “Big Brother”? That’s the plot of this British miniseries created by “Black Mirror”’s Charlie Brooker. Trapped inside the television studio, the series looks at what happens when people are put in fight-for-your-life situations.
For “Squid Game” audiences intrigued by the themes of class, aspiration, and wealth in the series, look no further than the Oscar-winning “Parasite”. A psychological thriller that dives deep into Korean society, Bong Joon-ho’s utterly mesmerizing film is one that should not be missed.
‘Battle Royale’ (2000)
Anchor Bay/courtesy Everett Collection
A group of Japanese Grade 9 students are forced into competing in a sadistic survival game in which they must kill each other until only one remains. Failing to do so means they *all* die. “Squid Game” creator Hwang Dong-hyuk said the idea for his show came to him while reading the manga version of “Battle Royale”.
Eight potential corporate job candidates are locked in a room and given one final test with one catch: There is no actual exam question. Faced with rules and restrictions that, when broken, result in lethal elimination, the candidates have 80 minutes to figure out this unique conundrum that will appeal to those who were into the bureaucratic side of “Squid Game”.
‘The Most Dangerous Game’ (1932)
Nearly 100 years ago, audiences were into seeing humanity fight for survival in a deadly game. Based on a 1924 novel, “The Most Dangerous Game” (featuring Alberta-born Fay Wray) tells the story of a psychotic big game hunter who strands a group of luxury yacht passengers on a remote island where he can hunt them down, one by one, for sport. Sound familiar? While this is the original adaptation of the novel, it’s been used as the basis for other movies including “The Hunt” in 2019 and the John Woo classic “Hard Target”.
‘3%’ (2016 – 2020)
Like “Squid Game”, Netflix’s Brazilian dystopian series presents a capitalist society divided among the “haves” on the island paradise known as the Offshore and the have-nots of the Inland. Each year, every 20-year-old from the Inland has a chance to live in paradise on Offshore by undergoing an intense and competitive process of which only 3% succeed. More sci-fi-tinged than horror, the games may not be as brutal as those in “Squid Game”, but each increasing challenge encourages more and more violence.
While there’s only one game in the techno-thriller “Nerve”, there’s plenty at stake for the film’s leads Emma Roberts and Dave Franco. An online “truth or dare” game with exceedingly dangerous challenges and cash prizes, the players attempt to leave the game only to face even more savage challenges. The film’s neon-drenched look will appeal to viewers who couldn’t get enough of “Squid Game”’s nostalgic candy-coloured sets.
‘Ready Or Not’ (2019)
20th Century Fox
The family that play together, slay together in the dark horror-comedy “Ready Or Not”. As part of a wedding night ritual, the Le Domas clan select a classic game to play to initiate the newcomer into the family. Unfortunately for bride Grace (Samara Weaving), she selects a lethal game of hide and seek in which she becomes a target of the maniacal family who will stop at nothing to take her out.
‘Survivor’ (2000 - )
The OG reality series in which competitors outwit, outplay, and outlast one another to become the ultimate survivor. There’s no blood, gore, or death, but you can bet there is plenty of social scheming, strategizing, and physical challenges going on here. Unlike “Squid Game”, losing this game doesn’t mean death. Season 41 of “Survivor” is currently airing Wednesdays on Global and StackTV.