Squid Game this, Squid Game that. As with much of the world, you’ve likely spent the past week binging Netflix’s inescapable Korean hit series. And now, after such a stretch spent in a headspace of gory survival, you’re not exactly ready to transition back to lighter fare like, say, the Packed to the Rafters reboot or whatever Ted Lasso’s about (footy fans with dad issues?).
Despair not because brutal dystopian madness is in vogue right now (eh, who knows why) and your thirst for bloody-minded content is a mere click away from being satisfied. Enjoy the following suggestions, if that’s the right word for it.
The Korean series is Netflix’s most successful non-English language show ever. Credit:Netflix
Alice in Borderland (Netflix)
This 2020 Japanese series, set in a dystopian Tokyo, has surged in popularity on Netflix after Squid Game‘s success thanks to its similarly-toned graphic violence and brutal games of survival. While it lacks Squid Game‘s biting capitalist allegory, playing more like a commentary on the escapist pathology of video games, the series dives deep into its characters’ alliances and betrayals.
Battle Royale (Shudder)
The cult 2000 Japanese film, about a group of high school students dumped on a remote island and forced to fight to the death by a government keen on curbing juvenile delinquency, set the template for Squid Game‘s sadistic survival horror. Squid Game’s creator Hwang Dong-hyuk has admitted the show’s premise came to him more than a decade ago when “I was in financial straits myself and spent much time in cafes reading comics including Battle Royale and Liar Game.”
The Japanese cult film Battle Royale was a key inspiration for Squid Game.
Sweet Home (Netflix)
Another Korean horror show that’s found a renewed audience thanks to Squid Game‘s popularity, this series, which debuted on Netflix last December, should at least curb your lingering bloodlust. More cartoonish than Squid Game‘s social satire, it follows a group of residents trying to stay alive in an apartment building infected with gruesome monsters (yes, more gruesome than Squid Game’s horrific gangster Deok-su).
The Society (Netflix)
Unfairly cancelled after just one season by Netflix thanks to the pandemic’s effect on its production budget, this dystopian teen drama – a sort of Lost meets Dawson’s Creek (imagine pitching that with a straight face) – was mesmerising in its “I wonder what I would do?” logic. As with Squid Game, it’s a Lord of the Flies-type scenario, with characters battling between self-interest and the greater good.
Can’t Get You Out of My Head (BBC)
If you’re intrigued by Squid Game’s mask-donning illuminati, those champagne-swilling faceless few who revelled in watching ordinary people bludgeon each other to death for money, then there’s probably a thousand depressing YouTube wormholes you could fall down. Instead, try Can’t Get You Out of My Head, British documentarian Adam Curtis’ densely researched exploration of power, corruption, conspiracy theories, and the endless struggle between individualism and collectivism.
The Wilds (Amazon Prime Video)
Another recent Lord of the Flies-riffing teen drama, this one centres on a group of girls stranded on a remote island after a plane crash who are unaware they’re actually part of a sick social experiment run by none other than Rachel Griffiths. If your favourite part of Squid Game was wondering how you’d fare among such a ragtag gang (like, are you a Sang-woo or an Ali?), this one should prove enlightening.
One of Netflix’s original foreign-language productions, this Brazilian series, which launched its fourth and final season last August, is a spiritual precursor to Squid Game’s critique of capitalist dehumanisation. While heavy on the melodrama, it sets up its intriguing dystopian premise at the get-go: “The world is divided into two sides: one abundant, the other scarce. A selection process lies between them. At the age of 20, each person has one chance. The chosen ones never return. They are the 3%.”
My Octopus Teacher (Netflix)
This is just a suggestion for all those viewers who tuned into Squid Game expecting actual squid rather than bloody mass murder. If you thought that was traumatising, just wait till you see a grown man have an extra-marital affair with calamari.
Find out the next TV, streaming series and movies to add to your must-sees. Get The Watchlist delivered every Thursday.
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