South Korean action drama Squid Game has taken over the world. Released by Netflix on September 17th it has risen to the top of the platform, being the most-watched show throughout the world since its release two weeks ago. For those unfamiliar, Squid Game is a new take on a classic theme. A group of people are more or less forced to compete in deadly games to survive another day and hopefully achieve victory.
The show has an atmospheric quality, with large sets and a very intentional use of color that draw out tension in a way most films can only do with music. The story is action-packed but full of moments of contemplation. The viewer experiences the same themes of South Korean inequality that drove Parasite to its Oscar awards, with characters equally as complex.
Squid Game sticks to a man-versus-man theme that has been a story told in every generation of every culture. Typically, we see it as a class struggle or military conflict, but Squid Game is part of a unique take on this tale as old as time. As it says in the title, death is a part of the game. The gamification of death is as exhilarating as it is tragic. Survive and you get to the next level. No one has the time or privilege to mourn.
If you’ve reached the end of the series and crave more, you don’t have to wait for Squid Game season 2. The gamification of death has had a bit of resurgence over the past few decades and there’s plenty of opportunities to get your fix. While many of these recommendations are not like-for-like copies of Squid Game they all make death into a game and ask your favorite characters to simply survive for one more level.
10 Shows and Movies Similar to Squid Game
- Snowpiecer (2014) – Korean filmmaker Bong Joon Ho directed this post-apocalypse action thriller a few years prior to winning Best Director for Parasite. Follow our heroes as they make their way from the train’s caboose to the engine, each car providing a different level of lethal difficulty.
- Battle Royale (2000) – Based on a very popular Manga, this Japanese film is considered a cornerstone of the gamification of death genre. A group of school children are tasked with fighting to the death. It is a brutal action film that provides much the same gore you may have enjoyed in Squid Game.
- Alice in Borderland (2020) – Streaming on Netflix, this Japanese show follows some video game fans that find themselves in an alternative Tokyo. They are forced to play various games in an attempt to survive and maybe make it home.
- 3% (2014) – Also streaming on Netflix, this Brazilian show is more dystopian future than outright gaming death. Meritocracy at its worst, the only way to ensure a safe and productive life requires a series of dangerous coming-of-age tasks. Prove you’re the best and you can join the upper class; fail and it may mean your life.
- Hunger Games Movies (2012) – The young-adult version of Battle Royale that took teens by storm almost a decade ago. It may be a fun way to get that exhilarating rush without the gore and constant brutality of Squid Game.
- Ready Or Not (2019) – Campy Horror at its best. On a couple’s wedding night, the groom’s family is bound by family tradition to play a card game. When the bride draws her card the game takes a drastic turn. I cannot recommend this one enough.
- Saw series (2004-) – If it was the brutality you liked about Squid Game, you’ve probably already seen the Saw series. If not, it’s right up your alley. People are kidnapped and placed in traps based on their sins.
- The Running Man (1987) – Arnold at his best. Dystopian action thriller from the 80s. Needs little introduction.
- Death Race (2008) – A remake of a classic B movie. Jason Statham, a retired race car driver, is framed for the murder of his wife and family. Soon, he is forced to compete in a racing competition that can buy the prisoners their freedom. But, Statham is racing for vengeance.
- Turkey Shoot (1982) – This film has it all. Dystopian future. Oppressive governments. And a man who sees a way out; he just has to survive the games of his jailors.
- “The Most Dangerous Game” – Richard Connell (1924)
- “Theseus and the Minotaur” – Some Ancient Greek (A long time ago)
Looking for something completely opposite of Squid Game? We recommend Ted Lasso.