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For Fans of 'Squid Game'

What to Read or Watch Next

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • October 12, 2021

If you've been bingeing Squid Game, you're not alone. The South Korean horror series has rapidly become Netflix's most-watched series. The bizarrely compelling premise: a group of financially strapped citizens sign up to compete at children's games for a huge cash prize. They soon learn that elimination from the game means death. Intriguing, yes, but with only nine episodes, the addictive thrill is short-lived. Here's what you may want to read or watch next.

Do Some Background Reading.

These books may have served as inspiration and influence for Squid Game creator Hwang Dong-hyuk.

  • The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson: You could say she's the OG when it comes to this kind of thing. When her classic deadly game story was first published in 1948, it left readers horror-struck.
  • The Long Walk by Stephen King: This dystopian tale from the King of psychological horror depicts a grueling walking competition where there can only be one winner—the one that survives.
  • The Running Man by Stephen King: A similar premise, this one is about a desperate man taking a chance on a grueling reality TV show where the only objective is to stay alive.
  • Arena by Holly Jennings: As first female captain in an elite gaming competition, Kali Ling must confront the truth about the tournament. Because it is much more than a game.
  • City of Thieves by David Benioff: This selection has the distinction of being historical fiction. Set during the siege of Leningrad in WWII, two young prisoners are given an unusual challenge for survival.
  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner: Thomas wakes up in a massive ever-changing maze surrounded by other boys. He can remember nothing but his name. Then a lone girl arrives with a terrifying message.

Get More Gory Games.

Get your own copy of these four blood-curdling movies (and one series) all featuring creepy competitions.

  • Battle Royale: Based on a classic manga series and novel by Koushun Takami, this Japanese movie is one of Squid Game's obvious influences.
  • Escape Room: Adam Robitel's 2019 psychological horror film places six strangers in a deadly, immersive puzzle-box of intrigue and suspense.
  • Kaiji: In this anime series based on a manga of the same name, a jobless loiterer with a massive debt is offered a deal to participate in a shady gambling tournament.
  • Nerve: This 2016 techno-thriller introduces a mediated online game of truth-or-dare that grows increasingly dangerous as players progress.
  • Cube: Five strangers awaken trapped in a mysterious maze of interconnected rooms. They must find their way out through a set of rooms rigged with fatal traps.

Bone Up on the Best New Horror Lit.

And if you're in the market for more of the season's freshest thrills, here are six of the most hair-raising horror stories from 2021.

  • The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward: "A true Nerve-shredder." That's what Stephen King called this story about an odd, reclusive family of three living in a boarded up house.
  • Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo: A sweltering, queer Southern Gothic novel that crosses Appalachian street racing with academic intrigue—all haunted by hungry ghost.
  • My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones: In her quickly gentrifying rural lake town, Jade feels like she's trapped in one of the slasher films she knows so well.
  • The Burning Girls by C. J. Tudor: An unconventional vicar must exorcise the dark past of a remote village haunted by death and disappearances in this explosive thriller.
  • Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon: Seven months pregnant and desperate to escape the strict religious compound where she was raised, Vern flees into the woods, where she experiences a strange metamorphosis.
  • Never Have I Ever by Isabel Yap: Pulling from urban legends, mythology, immigrant stories, and more, this collection of stories are infused with terrifying tension and dark, twisted magic.

Squid Game may have played out for now—a second season seems imminent!—but you can keep the jump scares going with some of this frightful entertainment.

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Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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