Once in a while, a show comes up that everybody starts to talk about, and no, not just in one country or region but nearly the whole world. It’s rare but it happens. Sometimes it lasts long, sometimes it doesn’t. We’ll see how “Squid Game” will hold up but there’s no question, this is the most discussed, and probably the most-watched show of the year.
Ever since it made its way into Netflix, the show got a lot of fans for how addictive it is, and also for its thrilling games, interesting characters, art direction, and so many other things. When you finish watching a show like that, it’s natural that you want to experience something similar. This list will cover ten films that have something in common with “Squid Game” for this reason or another but some of them may certainly please you.
10. Cheap Thrills (2013)
The horror genre loves movies featuring characters involved in sick and bloody “games” for this reason or another. Sometimes they don’t have much of a plot, they’re just there to make you get shocked by how far one can get. If you like those types of movies, we’ll have such in our list but “Cheap Thrills” also has a lot of humor going on for it which also makes it similar to “Squid Game”, a show that was self-aware enough but also had messages to give.
The film follows Vince (Ethan Embry) and Craig (Pat Healy) who are totally broke and have no idea how to improve their financial situation. They go to a bar and they’re approached by a strange couple named Colin (David Koechner) and Violet (Sara Paxton). Unlike the two, they seem to have no financial trouble. He also quickly has an idea of how Vince and Craig can improve their coffers a bit. Colin wants to give the two completely nonsensical tasks and then see who can manage them first. He promises that person a reward. And then you can imagine what’s gonna happen next: But as nasty as the film can get, it always retains its black humor, which blends in wonderfully with the overall picture. Fortunately, this does not rob the film of its seriousness but allows the viewer to process what has happened in an entertaining way.
9. Intacto (2001)
What is “luck”? Can it be “transferred”? Is it a real thing? Federico is a rare talent. He can steal the luck of others, that’s why he’s hired by a casino owner, played amazingly by the great, late Max Von Sydow. But then his own luck gets stolen by the very same owner whose name is Sam. He has the gift of robbing other people of their happiness. As the sole survivor of a concentration camp, he is the strongest in a group of people with this ability. They measure their luck in life-threatening games and thus combine the luck of their opponents. The best one will face the ultimate duel with Sam in Russian Roulette. When the gangster Tomas is the only one to survive a serious plane crash, an equal opponent seems to be found for Sam.
If you’re confused by this plot, that’s alright because the movie is complex and unusual but it’s never non-engaging which is the most important thing here. It’s a very original film. Unlike “Squid Game”, there are many more supernatural things going on but it’s also a very thoughtful, almost addicting piece of work. Unusual set designs only add more to the film’s quality.
8. The Blood of Heroes (1989)
There is actually a real game inspired by this movie called “Jugger”. Have to note that the alternative title of the film is also “The Salute of the Jugger”. The transformation into a real sport happened independently in Germany and Australia, which once again shows how influential movies can be in our lives.
The movie sets in a barren world caused by the wars of the 20th century but this brutal sport is the only entertainment. It is played by bands of roving teams known as juggs, who challenge local teams. When they win, they get a dog skull. However, there’s more to it. There’s an organization called “The League” whose members live in luxury. Our team players consist of Sallow (Rutger Hauer), Dog-Boy (Justin Monjo), Mbulu (Delroy Lindo), Big Cimber (Anna Katarina), and Young Gar (Vincent D’Onofrio) try to get their attention. However, they’re not aware of how meaner the game will get.
The film is written and directed by David Webb Peoples, one of the writers of “Blade Runner”, and the man who would also write “Unforgiven.” Interesting characters, some intriguing thoughts on the class divide, cool atmosphere, some wild games, and more. While it’s a cult film, the movie certainly deserved little more recognition than it initially got. The game scenes got a lot of praise and attention in “Squid Game” and here they are well choreographed as well in their elegant brutality.
7. Surviving the Game (1994)
We had “The Blood of Heroes” but more Rutger Hauer is never bad. Loosely based on the 1924 short story “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell, the film follows a homeless man in Seattle named Jack Mason who gets hired for a job by a rich businessman. This businessman Thomas Burne, offers him to be his hunting guide. Mason accepts and goes to the place, meets with other members of the hunting party. The following morning, Mason is awakened with a gun in his face by Cole, Thomas Burns’ partner who explains that the men are not hunting any animals, but rather Mason himself.
“Surviving the Game” ignores any kind of psychological depth but it’s still entertaining a lot because of the cast and the premise. The cinematography is also cool and the story itself is just a bold take on the classic Richard Connell short story and provides some really interesting twists along the way. The uniqueness this film brings to the familiar formula is who is being hunted. Then again, Gary Busey’s performance is enough to make it worth watching.
6. Would You Rather (2012)
In a case you don’t know, “Would you rather” is a conversation or party game that poses a dilemma in the form of a question beginning with “would you rather”. Something like “would you rather have your money or your love”. This film takes this premise to a perhaps little too extreme places. It wouldn’t necessarily be a criticism to call it “torture porn” as the film is a little too violent but if you wanted “Squid Game” to be a little more brutal and more serious, maybe that’s what you should go for.
The plot starts simple. To help her brother, who is suffering from cancer, Iris (Brittany Snow) accepts an offer: She is supposed to attend a dinner party of the rich Shepard Lambrick (Jeffrey Combs), and at the end of the part, there will be a game. Lambrick is ready to pay for her brother’s treatment for this but Iris and the other seven candidates have no idea what game Lambrick would like to play with them.
This is a shocking, morally questionable but also very thought-provoking film. The characters could have developed more but the film still manages to make you feel about them, to have empathy for them which makes everything happens even more shocking.