David Fincher’s classic movie The Game celebrates its 25th anniversary in September 2022. It is time to look back and remember the movie that put Michael Douglas in the middle of a deadly game that seemed to destroy his entire life. However, the movie was just one of many films that approached the idea of people involved in deadly games that ended up becoming a fight for life and death.
These movies go all the way back to the advent of cinema, and one of the best deadly games movies that Letterboxd fans loved came in 1932, and since then, the stakes have only been raised. From classic movies that have stood the test of time to beloved cult classics and modern-day masterpieces, anyone who loves deadly games will find plenty of movies for their enjoyment.
10 The Hunt (2020) – 3.0
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The Hunt arrived in 2020 and ended up a box office failure. However, despite failing to bring an audience to theaters (partially because of theater closures in 2020), the movie still picked up enough fans to earn a 3.0 rating on Letterboxd. This was surprising since it was also controversial for a perceived political message.
The movie was basically a remix of Surviving the Game, however instead of elitists capturing homeless people to hunt, they kidnaped Conservatives. Despite the lack of early viewers, enough people caught it on streaming services later to form their own opinions, and the movie ended up gaining quite a few fans.
9 The Running Man (1987) – 3.2
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For a time in his career, Stephen King used a pseudonym to publish books outside the horror genre to see if they could sell without his name on them. One of these was The Running Man, and it ended up as a movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead. The story was interesting because it predated reality TV by over a decade.
In this movie, a totalitarian government created a reality TV show where prisoners and political dissidents have to escape people hunting them down to kill them. The goal is to kill them for the enjoyment of the television audience, but a pardon is available to those who escape. This has become the normal format for these deadly games movies.
8 Cube (1998) – 3.2
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A decade before Saw helped create the “torture porn” genre, Cube did the same thing and received a large cult following in the years since its release. The movie had a simple premise: a group of people woke up in a small room and had to find a way out. This involved solving puzzles, with a wrong move resulting in death.
While this didn’t have the moral implications of the Saw franchise, it was still deeper than the Escape Room movies. The deadly games movies with puzzle rooms remain popular, but this early version still has most recent releases beat, as evident by its Letterboxd score.
7 Death Race 2000 (1975) – 3.3
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In 1975, Sylvester Stallone appeared in one of his earliest roles in the deadly games movie, Death Race 2000. Like many movies in this genre, the release was a B-grade action movie that has since received a massive cult following, as evident by its higher Letterboxd score.
In this movie, the people are forced to compete in deadly games in a dystopian America to entertain people after the United States implemented a totalitarian regime. This movie involves a Transcontinental road race where violence is encouraged and actually killing innocent pedestrians offers up bonus points for the competitors, upping the violence.
6 The Most Dangerous Game (1932) – 3.4
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Deadly games movies are not a new phenomenon. In 1932, the horror movie The Most Dangerous Game arrived, based on the short story by Richard Connell. This movie saw a big game hunter who strands a group of passengers from a luxury yacht on a remote island.
He then sets out and starts to hunt them for sport. This sounds very familiar to the recent deadly games movie The Hunt, which was blasted for political overtones. However, as this early movie showed, this is not a new genre or idea. The movie was such a critical success that it later received a Criterion Collection release.
5 Game Night (2018) – 3.5
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The fun with Game Night is that this is supposed to be about people who love to get together to play regular games with each other every week. However, as the movie shows, sometimes these games can get a little scary at times and that is when party games can go wrong.
During a mystery game on game night, a man surprises his friends with a role-playing mystery. When two masked men show up and kidnap one of the gamers, everyone thinks it is part of the game, until things begin to grow violent and dangerous. This is a unique movie, where no one is sure what is real, and it plays fair with the audience, explaining its impressive Letterboxd score.
4 The Hunger Games (2012) – 3.5
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The Hunger Games trilogy is another deadly games movie where the games are forced upon people by a totalitarian government. In this case, the world has fallen into ruins other than the wealthy elite, and the small communities send in tributes every year to compete in the Hunger Games. The object is for the tributes to kill each other until only one remains.
It all comes down to the tributes, and what they will do to help their communities, while also either keeping their morals or throwing it all away. The Hunger Games franchise turns into a story of rebellion in the latter two movies, but the first keeps the entire focus on the deadly game.
3 Ready Or Not (2019) – 3.6
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While The Hunt was a disappointment for Blumhouse when it hit theaters in 2020, another deadly games movie was a surprise hit in 2019. Ready or Not grossed over $57 million worldwide on a budget of just $6 million, and the story was one of the strangest of the genre.
The movie featured a woman who learned her new husband’s family had a tradition to hunt the new bride or groom down on their wedding night. This is a non-stop cat-and-mouse game with the bride attempting to survive, and it is kill or be killed in this deadly game. The movie received high critical praise and is noted as a crowd-pleasing movie.
2 The Game (1997) – 3.7
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David Fincher has become one of the world of cinema’s best directors over his career, and one of his early movies still stands the test of time. This is The Game, which stars Michael Douglas as an uptight businessman whose brother, played by Sean Penn, gives him a unique gift for his birthday.
The gift is a voucher for a game, one that several of his fellow investment bankers said they enjoyed. After the game company rejects him, he suddenly realizes something bad is happening. People start to attack him and his loved ones, and then he learns his business was also targeted, and he loses everything. The game is clearly to put the man through hell, to show him the real worth of his life, and the movie is a puzzle worth the time.
1 Battle Royale (2000) – 3.8
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For many fans, The Hunger Games seemed very familiar. That is because it has a very similar storyline to a Japanese movie released in 2000. This movie is Battle Royale, and Letterboxd fans consider it the best of the best of deadly games movies.
In Battle Royale, a Japanese totalitarian government captures a class of junior high students and sends them to an island. Once there, they are forced to fight to the death. While The Hunger Games received huge box office success, Battle Royale was banned in many countries, but eventually became a cult classic and is considered a landmark movie in the deadly games genre.