The Netflix hit of the moment is the South Korean thriller "Squid Game." It's become the most-watched piece of content on the streamer, and it's easy to see why. Each episode keeps you guessing, and as more questions become answered, new ones emerge. Like you, we got wrapped up in the game and hope that season two comes much sooner than later. We also want more. Where TV leaves off, cinema comes to the rescue! Here are nine movies to queue up next after you finish the final round of "Squid Game." Of course, before you read on, take note that there are some mild spoilers ahead. Reader beware!
Sorry M. Night Shyamalan fans, but "The Game" is one of the finest "mind-f--k" movies ever made. Michael Douglas stars as a by-the-numbers banker who receives a rather odd birthday gift from his unconventional brother (Sean Penn). This gift is the lead role in a personalized game. What starts innocuously becomes trippy and surreal as you try to piece together what is real and part of the game alongside an increasingly frantic Douglas.
The Running Man
What is "Squid Game" if not a deadly game show? The only difference is that the players don't know who is watching. Such is not the case with Arnold Schwarzenegger in this Stephen King adaptation from one half of "Starsky & Hutch," Paul Michael Glaser. Schwarzenegger's Ben Richards knows the game and its fans. He also knows that, to escape a prison sentence, he must run to win. Of course, if he's caught, he's dead. Even more twisted in this movie is seeing an actual game show host run the show. That would be the perfectly cast Richard Dawson of "Family Feud" fame.
Lord of the Flies
A group is left on its own to survive or die. Through their turmoil we witness the true nature of humankind. We know how this all plays out in "Lord of the Flies," with the stranded boys resorting to their most primal mentalities. These themes run deep into the core of "Squid Game," making this a good back-to-back watch (or read), especially if you survived that glass bridge.
Train to Busan
"Squid Game" wasn't the first time a piece of Korean media hit it big in the English-speaking world. "Train to Busan" is arguably bigger and just as well-received. The film's plot? Passengers are trapped on a runaway train as the world comes to an end at the hands of hordes of zombies. Seo Seok-woo leads the charge as a divorced dad trying to make things right with his young daughter. This plot beat feels familiar. But do you recognize the guy playing him? That's Gong Yoo. He's the same actor that plays the dapper yet creepy subway recruiter guy in "Squid Game."
"Parasite" is another fantastic Korean film. It also hit big, and in 2019 it dominated the Oscar race. When you boil "Squid Game" down to its core, it's a dark satire on Korean social class and greed. If you're looking for another dark thriller that plays into these themes, you can do no better than Bong Joon-ho's Best Picture winner.
November 1, 2019
We know many Millenials and Zoomers aren't familiar with "The Running Man." It's a piece of '80s cheese that might surprise you with its prescience. The film's broad idea was put to action more recently in "The Hunger Games." Just as "Squid Game" dominated Internet chatter in recent weeks, so too did people return to the saga of Katniss Everdeen and her fight for survival and during a nationally televised event. Start here, and after that, watch the remaining chapters. They're all streaming right now on Hulu.
We see "Squid Game" through the eyes of Player 456, Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae), a hapless and divorced chauffeur. Seong's only way out of his bad luck and massive debt is through the eponymous game. We Americans are largely lost on the joke of Lee Jung-jae's casting, as Lee is known in Korea for his charm. To get in on the joke, look no further than Im Sang-soo's steamy 2010 thriller "The Housemaid." Lee is in the lead, but this time he's filthy rich.
Connecting the dots between the premise of "The Hunt" and "Squid Game" might spoil some things about the show's end, so we're not going to get into it too much. After "Squid Game," though, you should revisit this unlucky yet smart horror flick from March 2020, right before the pandemic hit. To call this a box office bomb would be a bit unfair.
For "Squid Game," creator Hwang Dong-hyuk took inspiration from many different sources, including Japanese manga survival books and even his own dire straits. But when the show finally aired, many on the Internet complained that they had seen it before. Hwang asserts that any connection to this hair-raising 2014 Japanese slasher flick is purely coincidental. Like the show, the film and its source manga use deadly versions of childrens' games as challenges for survival. One game players work through is a deadly version of "Red Light, Green Light." Sound familiar? Even the creepy robot and its creepier camera eyes are spot on. Is this another "Kimba the White Lion?" You be the judge.
Matt Lissauer is a writer & data manager for Noovie. When he is not busy writing listicles, Matt is enjoying life in New Jersey with his lovely wife and three kids.