Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

5 best death game movies you should watch right now

In the realm of the greatest thriller and horror movies is a subgenre that has grown in popularity over the years – the “death game” films. These are brutal and often disturbing works that thrust characters into ruthless games of survival, with only the most cunning, creative, or desperate players coming out alive. There are some standouts from the niche that are critically acclaimed thanks to their uniqueness, complexity, or bold genre-defining concepts that would go on to shape and influence modern death game movies.

From controversial classics like Battle Royale to beloved blockbusters like The Hunger Games, the best death game movies depict violent battles bound by twisted sets of rules that ensure there will be bloodshed. These adrenaline-pumping films can get viewers invested in the characters’ fates and lives, which are inevitably cut short when the games begin.

Ready or Not (2019)

Samara Weaving in Ready or Not.
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Ready or Not is a one-of-a-kind death game movie because it only features one player – Grace (Scream VI‘s Samara Weaving) – who goes against her soon-to-be husband’s entire family. Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, the film depicts Grace’s unfortunate wedding night after she participates in a seemingly innocent family tradition. She draws a game card from a puzzle box, revealing that she has picked “Hide-and-Seek,” which soon leads to her being hunted by every single member of the family.

Aside from featuring one of the best final girls in horror, Ready or Not is a unique entry in the subgenre because of its use of black comedy. As family members suffer horrific injuries while trying and failing to catch Grace, there are numerous comical scenes that will have audiences laughing at the most inappropriate moments. As if all that wasn’t enough, the 2019 film is also a comedic commentary on excessive wealth, with Grace’s iconic line perfectly summing up her experience as a victim of the death game: “F**king rich people.”

Ready or Not is streaming on Fubo TV.

Cube (1997)

A prisoner wakes up inside a giant cube in the 1997 film Cube.
Cube Libre

When a group of strangers wakes up in bizarre Kafkaesque cube-like rooms, they have no idea what horrors are about to unfold. 1997’s sci-fi horror classic Cube portrays the prisoners’ gruesome experiences as they learn that some rooms have lethal traps. They eventually learn that they must use their skills and work together to somehow get out of the deadly maze alive.

Director Vincenzo Natali’s indie film is a cult classic that was once overlooked in the death game subgenre. It has since gained more attention from audiences and critics alike for its invaluable role in defining the niche and influencing modern and more successful counterparts like Saw. While Cube suffers from weak dialogue and questionable pacing, its groundbreaking set pieces, creative traps, and tense atmosphere undoubtedly helped shape the subgenre that fans know and love today. Anyone who enjoys most death game movies may want to check out the film that started it all.

Cube can be streamed on Tubi.

The Hunger Games (2012)

Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games.

Directed by Gary Ross based on Suzanne Collins’s eponymous 2008 novel, The Hunger Games is a massively popular dystopian movie that would start a thriving franchise. Starring Jennifer Lawrence in one of her biggest roles, the film takes place in a future where the Capitol of Panem forces representatives from its 12 districts to compete in the Hunger Games. The televised event has its participants fight to the death, with the final survivor hailed as the winner. When the District 12 Tribute Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) joins the game, it changes her destiny and Panem’s future.

The Hunger Games became a cultural phenomenon when it first premiered in 2012, attracting not just readers, but new fans who would continue to support its three sequels. With a fourth one, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, now showing in theaters, it’s easy to see just how successful the franchise has become. It’s the perfect time to revisit the first movie, which has aged surprisingly well. With its emotional story tinged with political commentary and its spell-binding soundtrack featuring award-winning songs like Safe & Sound, there are plenty of reasons why The Hunger Games has earned its spot alongside the greats of the genre.

The Hunger Games is streaming on Peacock.

Saw (2004)

Jigsaw in Saw

Saw is a horror movie that needs no introduction. The film is the first entry in an enduring franchise that recently terrified fans with Saw X. The first Saw movie is also James Wan’s impressive directorial debut, hinting at his future catalog of legendary horror franchises like Insidious and The Conjuring. It all begins with the spine-chilling introduction of Jigsaw, a merciless serial killer who informs his latest victims, Adam Stanheight (Leigh Whannell) and Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes), that they must complete his sick game if one of them hopes to survive.

The low-budget film made headlines for its disturbing premise and abundance of blood and gore. Before long, Jigsaw’s death games would have a global fanbase that’s still growing today. While the franchise has come a long way from its first entry, the original Saw movie is still worth rewatching thanks to its straightforward execution of the concept and depiction of some of the best traps and impressive set pieces.

Saw is streaming on Hulu.

Battle Royale (2000)

The cast of Battle Royale assemble for a photo.
Toei Company

Battle Royale is a controversial Japanese cult classic film based on a similarly contentious novel by Koushun Takami. The death game movie was director Kinji Fukasaku’s final and most influential film, as 2000’s Battle Royale redefined what the term meant and is credited with the creation of the booming battle royale genre. It focused on a group of 9th graders who are sent to kill each other on a deserted island. With explosive collars around their neck and a rule that states there must only be one survivor, they have no choice but to murder their fellow students to survive the game.

The film was banned in several countries due to its portrayal of shockingly young characters and the excessive violence they use to stay alive. Combining melodrama, youth violence, and wild mayhem, Battle Royale aims not just to startle and entertain, but also to point out moral conflicts through its provocative brutality. Most death game movies that followed Fukasaku’s masterpiece would inevitably be compared to the Japanese film, which still enjoys its reputation as a pioneer of the subgenre.

Battle Royale is streaming on Freevee.

Editors' Recommendations

Saab Hannah
Saab whips up SEO-optimized articles as a writer for Digital Trends and updates top-performing articles on Collider.
3 movies and TV shows like the hit Max series Julia you should watch right now
Julia almost faints in Julia.

Julia Season 2 | Official Trailer | Max

Now returning for its second season on Max, Julia has become one of the unexpected delights of the TV calendar. Telling the story of Julia Child with a winsome combination of humor and genuine pathos, the series has earned its fair share of admirers, who come to it either because of a fascination with Julia Child or because of their love of cooking TV more generally.

Read more
3 movies leaving Peacock in November you have to watch
Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly in Step Brothers.

Peacock is dropping a lot of movies at the end of November, which is part of its normal churn of content. Some of the departing films, like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, have come and gone from Peacock so many times that we've lost track of the exact number. But it's a high number, and you can bet that some of these movies will make their way back to Peacock at some point in the future.

But why wait? You've already paid your subscription fee for the month of November, and you deserve to get the most out of it. To help you plan your next movie night, we've chosen one of the most successful YA adaptations, and two Judd Apatow-produced films for this list. These are the three movies leaving Peacock in November that you have to watch.
The Hunger Games (2012)

Read more
5 bad 2000s action movies that you still need to watch right now
Christian Bale in Terminator Salvation.

Since the turn of the century, there's been no shortage of action movies. It is, after all, one of the most popular film genres in the world. It may also be one of the hardest to get right since there was no shortage of bad action movies even before streamers like Netflix and Prime Video started making bad action flicks of their own.

So why take the time to watch a bad action movie when you could watch a good one instead? Because sometimes it can be fun to watch bad movies just to laugh at how awful they are. The following list doesn't contain the greatest action movies ever made, but they are still enjoyable enough to give them a watch.
Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002)

Read more