With Squid Game on its way to becoming Netflix’s biggest show ever, the internet is ablaze. Hwang Dong-hyuk’s stylishly violent and satirical look at hyper-capitalism and the lengths people will go to survive has become a cultural phenomenon. But after you’ve finished the nine episodes then what should you watch next? There are literally thousands of awesome K-Dramas to explore, so we’re focusing on an array of thematically relevant movies and TV from around the world. So let’s get to it!
Battle Royale (2000)
For many viewers who grew up during the Tartan Extreme era, Battle Royale is likely the first thing that came to mind when you saw Squid Game. This iconic, brutal movie from Japanese director Kinji Fukasaku centers around a similar premise. Based on the book by Koushun Takami, the movie imagines a world where—due to over population and student delinquency—random school classes are selected to fight in a so-called Battle Royale. Each of the children are given a random weapon and the last one standing wins. It’s a searing social satire that set the stage for the contemporary fight-to-the-death trend.
The Housemaid (1960)
Kuk Dong Seki Trading Co.
Where to watch: Available to rent from Apple TV
This atmospheric and creepy Korean domestic thriller from Kim Ki-young was a big influence on Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite. The horrifying femme fatale tale acts as a dire warning to wealthy families who might take in a poor woman as a worker. When composer Dong-sik’s wife becomes pregnant, the pair decide they need home help. Their seemingly sweet housemaid soon becomes a thorn in all their sides and a spate of violence follows. It ends with an unforgettable twist that says a lot about the way workers were viewed at the time, more as an existential threat to the wealthy than people there to help.
The Platform (2019)
Where to watch: Netflix
If the gamification of survival and darkly horrific representation was what gripped you then this Spanish horror from Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia will likely fill the Squid Game-shaped hole in your life. This dystopian nightmare takes place in a “Vertical Self-Management Center.” What’s that, you ask? It’s a towering prison where the residents are regularly moved randomly between floors. And they’re delivered food by a platform that starts at the top and goes down level by level. Of course, those who are at the bottom are left without while those at the top eat. It’s a gnarly commentary on how trickle down economics doesn’t work.
Where to watch: Netflix
This Joseon era South Korean period drama is one of the best zombie shows on TV. It’s also an intricate look at class systems and the politics of life and death. As Crown Prince Lee Chang investigates a brewing conspiracy, he discovers something far more dangerous. There’s an infection which is bringing the dead back to life. Over two seasons and a brilliant feature-length episode, Kingdom offers up a startling take on zombie lore that evolves and shifts. While the first season will hook you, the second and that special really make its message clear. This is gory and political horror TV at its most ambitious and interesting.
Where to watch: Hulu
It’s impossible to talk about class war storytelling without mentioning Parasite. Bong Joon-ho’s satirical masterpiece takes on the class divide in South Korea in stark fashion. The story centers on two families, the wealthy Park clan and the poverty stricken Kim family. The former live large in a sprawling minimalist home with no idea how their lavish lifestyle impacts those around them. When the Kim’s son Ki-woo gains employment at the Park’s, their lives begin to change. Soon, the entire family is working there. Filled with secrets, bleak humor, and an unforgettable final act, this is a must watch after Squid Game.
Train to Busan (2016)
Another brilliant zombie offering from South Korea, this trapped train undead flick reignited our passion for the overdone subgenre. It’s absolutely action packed and filled with social commentary. Seo Seok-woo is a tired, divorced father who is taking his daughter Su-an to spend her birthday with her mother in Busan. But a rampant zombie plague is spreading across the country. Soon, the pair is trapped on a train, battling the undead and trying to survive the trip. Nothing short of a perfect zombie movie, this is a great horror-filled follow up to Squid Game.
Ready or Not (2019)
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Where to watch: Available to rent on Apple TV and Amazon Prime Video
Samara Weaving shines among an all-star cast in this class war slasher. Grace thinks that she’s met the love of her life in Alex Le Domas. The heir to a family gaming company, he’s rich, charming, and kind. Or at least that’s what it seems like until their wedding night, as when the pair tie the knot they have to play a game. This is a whip-sharp horror-comedy that’ll have you screaming, crying, and cheering before the credits roll. Ready or Not knows how fun it is to see an underdog battle the upper classes and relishes in it at every turn.
Alice in Borderland (2020)
Where to watch: Netflix
If you’re looking for something about a deadly game that’s on Netflix now, then Alice in Borderland is for you. While the rest of our picks are outwardly political in nature, it’s impossible to not recommend this massively entertaining offering. Three friends wake up in an empty Tokyo. While trying to work out what’s going on, they find a door which seems to lead to the only other people in the city. Alas, it also leads to a game that once you start playing you cannot stop. And if you lose, you die. Inventive and original, this is a Saw-style take on the survival game that will keep you engrossed from the first episode.
Wild Street Pictures
Where to watch: Free on Tubi
While it’s not for the faint hearted, Society is one of the best class war horror movies ever made. Brian Yuzna crafts a story that takes the idea of the rich feeding on the poor literally. And it’s just as gross as the reality it’s based on. When a young man, Bill, begins to suspect that his Beverly Hills family has a nasty secret, his life is turned upside down. Soon, he’s thrown into a conspiracy that he can barely believe. It pits Bill against the bloodthirsty society that he was supposed to embrace in a trippy and grotesque fight for survival.
Featured Image: Netflix, Toei Company