Following a group of debt-addled individuals who volunteer to play a series of games with deadly consequences, Netflix’s Squid Game is a satisfying combination of inventive world-building, spellbinding set design and emotional intrigue. It’s easy to gobble up all nine episodes — so here are eight films and TV shows that share the South Korean drama’s affinity for risky gameplay.
Before Squid Game, there was this exciting Japanese series, which follows several friends living in a parallel version of Tokyo where every move determines their survival. Featuring lethal versions of tag and hide-and-seek, this is maybe the closest you’ll get to the real thing.
A cult classic, Battle Royale focuses on middle school students who are whisked off to a remote island and instructed to kill each other until only one remains. As emotionally-investing as it is violently thrilling, this Kinji Fukasaku flick isn’t admired by Quentin Tarantino for nothing.
Feelings of anxiety peak in these Black Mirror installments, both of which center on individuals being pursued for reasons unknown, forced to perform strange tasks and endure unexplained bouts of torture as they try to uncover the nefarious reasons they’ve been chosen as targets.
Rather than victimize the helpless, David Fincher’s The Game flips its class critique by turning its sights onto a wealthy businessman (Michael Douglas), whose easy but unfulfilling life is upended when he signs on for a mysterious game where he is no longer the one calling the shots.
Perhaps the most lucrative addition to the genre, the $3 billion Hunger Games franchise helped launch the now Oscar-winning career of Jennifer Lawrence and got fans of all ages invested in a dystopian story about lottery-selected children fighting each other in a televised death match.
Emma Stone and Jonah Hill play down-on-their-luck drug trial participants in this mind-bending trip of a miniseries, which explores themes of displacement and desperation. Stone’s character puts it best when she describes this Cary Fukanaga effort as “multi-reality brain magic shit.”
In a small Texas town where prospects are minimal, the only chance for escape is winning the titular high-stakes game, where high school seniors are pushed to perform a series of increasingly dangerous tasks. Based on Lauren Oliver’s novel, this YA drama is a gripping bone-chiller.
What starts as a “young adult Lost” soon reveals itself to be something far more sinister in this underrated Lord of the Flies-inspired mystery, where a group of very different teenage girls are forced to fend for themselves on a deserted island. But are they really even stranded?