David Fincher directed ‘The Game’ which is about Michael Douglas playing a rich but bored investment banker who gets a mysterious present – it is a chance to participate in a game that integrates with his real life. However, as the plot progresses and Douglas’ character gets in over his head, he realizes that a larger conspiracy might be afoot and his understanding of the game and his own reality begins to merge. With his worlds colliding, it is now up to him to rely on his brains and instincts to try and get out on top of this situation.
A thoroughly enjoyable watch and lauded by critics, The Game is a fine Fincher film. Here is the list of movies similar to The Game that are our recommendations. You can watch some of these movies like The Game on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
15. Black Swan (2010)
Directed by Darren Aronofsky, this psychological thriller is about a ballet production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Portman plays Nina a girl who’s best suited for the role of the White Swan but wants to play both the White and Black Swan. The ballet company is joined by Nina’s double Lily, who has an uninhibited quality making her better suited for the Black Swan’s role. A plot that is often considered as a metaphor for artistic perfection and the psychological trauma and sacrifice that it requires, Nina’s world of hallucinations and reality begins to merge with fatal complications arising in the climax of the film. A wonderful psychological roller coaster, this film makes the psychological twists in The Game look like amateur hour.
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14. Gone Girl (2014)
Directed by David Fincher and based on Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name, this film is at its core a psychological thriller. The plot deals with the disappearance of Amy who is reported missing by her husband Nick Dunne. However, as the investigation proceeds the police begin to suspect Nick of having murdered his wife. The narrative in the film supports that as well. This main narrative is then undercut by Amy’s own narrative where it is shown that Amy orchestrated the whole thing and her psychopathic tendency allowed her to devise a near perfect plan and get away with it. A tension between the real narrative and the constructed narrative gives this film the same confusing but delightful flavor as Fincher’s other film The Game.
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13. Unknown (2011)
Directed by Jaume Collet Serra this film stars Liam Neeson and is a psychological thriller. A doctor by the name of Martin Harris survives a crash but when he reawakens in a hospital he finds that another person named Martin Harris has now infiltrated all aspects of his life. A film with multiple twists which ultimately culminates in a terrorist plot, the psychological aspect in the film comes from an identity crisis and a subsequent choice that Neeson’s character has to make – whether the version of events in his head is true or whether he should believe the people around him. Faced with a dilemma much like Douglas’ character in The Game, Harris reacts predictably and nobly to bring the film to its dramatic conclusion.
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12. Donnie Darko (2001)
Directed by Richard Kelly, this is one of the finest science fiction movies made independently. The plot follows Donnie a young boy who sees visions of a monstrous rabbit who makes apocalyptic prophecies. A wild series of events unfurl over the course of twenty-eight days and Donnie ultimately finds himself waking up in his own bedroom just as he is crushed by a plane engine. This is a mirror sequence as the beginning of the film. Donnie’s entire reality is warped as he fast forwards in time during the course of the film, only to return to the original timeline at the very end. Donnie’s diagnosis as a detached schizophrenic makes us doubt whether it was all in his mind or if he really time traveled. A fine film that raises as many questions as it answers, this cult classic definitely deserves a watch.
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11. Rear Window (1954)
Considered one of Alfred Hitchcock’s best movies, this plot follows a photographer restricted to his wheelchair. An adventurous man who is bored by this recent confinement, he takes to photographing his neighbors or just observing them. In course of his voyeurism, he begins to suspect that one of this neighbors had killed his own wife and was covering up the murder. The plot is masterfully crafted by this brilliant storyteller who keeps us doubting the validity of the protagonist Jeff’s narrative, often making us question if his version of events was not influenced by a bout of paranoia and severe boredom. However, Jeff’s version does turn out to be true leading to a thrilling climax. Hitchcock leaves the confirmation till the very end, dangling us with the possibility of an alternate version of events as only this master storyteller can.
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10. Memento (2000)
Christopher Nolan probably did his finest work in this film. A film about a victim of anterograde amnesia and short-term memory loss, the film is a neo-noir psychological thriller. A man tries to track down his wife’s murderer using an intricate system of Polaroid photos. The film is brilliant for its use of nonlinear narrative and its judicious uses of motifs to portray memory loss, perception and grief. The ending, however, brings forth a cohesive narration showing Nolan’s mastery over the script much like Fincher oozes mastery in the making of The Game.
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9. Total Recall (1990)
Directed by Paul Verhoeven, this was one of the most expensive films made at that time. A science fiction fantasy film, the plot takes place mostly in Mars where Quaid played by Arnold Schwarzenegger suffers memories surfacing to his mind. On one hand, these memories indicate that he has an important job at hand related to Mars’ rebellion. On another hand, he is repeatedly told that he is becoming insane and must return to docility or suffer a lobotomy. Caught in a state of fractured reality Quaid perhaps never really resolves the issue since he is left after the climax of the movie wondering even then if the entire experience is a dream. A multi-layered narrative where the viewers are also left feeling unsure about the absolute veracity of either, this film puts a spin on The Game’s idea and takes it up a notch.
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8. The Sixth Sense (1999)
Directed by M Night Shyamalan, this supernatural thriller is about a child psychologist Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) who tries to help a young child Cole. This child believes he sees dead people. A supernatural gift, which is perceived as a mental condition by Crowe, the doctor-patient relationship propels much of the script forward as Crowe helps Cole to readjust into society and live with himself. His dedicated efforts are lauded and appreciated by the audience, till Shyamalan in his characteristic manner introduces a twist ending where Crowe himself is a ghost and it turns out the entire treatment of the child was not to prevent him from seeing dead people, but to help him adjust into society despite that. The joke is really on the audience as we realize that our entire perception of reality in the film was askew and Shyamalan held his cards close to his chest to deliver this thoroughly enjoyable performance.
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7. The Number 23 (2007)
Directed by Joel Schumacher, this film is a psychological thriller starring Jim Carrey. Carrey plays the role of a man Walter who begins to become obsessed with a book his wife gave him and beginning to believe that the book’s protagonist and his life was similar and that there was some mysterious connection to the number 23. While his reality becomes fractured by this book, he cannot understand who he truly is and what is indeed real – the world of text or the world around him. Confronted by this situation, Walter arrives at the bottom of the matter, wherein he finds that the life he surrounded himself with was actually the result of trying to distance himself from a murder he committed long ago. This film has all the right twists and turns to make it a seat-gripping experience much like Fincher’s work.
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6. Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
What’s one of the best aspects of The Game? The fact that it is a mind-bending movie. well, when it comes to this film the mind-bending is unparalleled. Directed by Adrian Lyne, the plot follows Jacob Singer, an American soldier returned from Vietnam who suffers apparently from post-traumatic stress. This causes him to have hallucinations and he sees grotesque apparitions. Jacob’s investigation into his own condition reveals, after several hurdles, that he and his team ingested a drug called the ladder which made then hyper-aggressive and turns on each other. Jacob realizes that his trauma is only because he is holding on to life and he lets go and dies. The film then goes back to the beginning sequence and shows this entire thing has played out in Jacob’s mind as he tried to cling on to his life, but as he makes peace with his trauma he dies of the bayonet wound he received while part of the mission in Vietnam. A fantastic plot creation, this film will leave you puzzled much like The Game.
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5. The Usual Suspects (1995)
Directed by Bryan Singer, this movie might just be the epitome of narrative mind-bending. An entire plot is constructed through an interrogation sequence where Verbal Kint tells the cops of his gang of hoodlum friends and the fearful figure of Keyser Soze, a man who the criminal underworld fears. The plot culminates beautifully in an action sequence and the mind-bending comes only after Kint has been released the cops realize that the entire chain of events narrated was filled in with lies to make it seem like the truth. In a moment of anticipatory climax, Kint is shown to be the fearful Soze who gets away once again and we realize that the entire narration was untrustworthy and we really do not know how the major gunfight or the death of the notorious gang transpired.
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4. American Psycho (2000)
Directed by Mary Harron, this film stars Christian Bale as an enigmatic and charming investment banker. Investment banking is also a profession Douglas’ character practices in Fincher’s movie. Perhaps such a high stress and high returns job really take a psychopathic mindset to tackle it and Douglas’ character seeks release in the intriguing game, while Bateman(Bale’s character) seeks release in murder. However, the movie culminates in a point where we do not know whether Bateman’s murders were just fantasies that he never really executed or whether they really were crimes for which he was never punished. Bateman certainly believes it is the latter but cannot be sure. Neither can we as we are forced to become a part of this man’s fractured reality.
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3. Fight Club (1999)
Based on Chuck Palahniuk’s novel of the same name, Fincher directed this film as well. If nothing else, we can take one fact away from this list. Fincher is definitely fascinated by the multiplicity of what can be construed as reality and this is evident from the kind of films he makes and chooses to make. Fight Club is of course as we know about the nameless insomniac who is trapped in a capitalist exploitative system and dissociates as he created Tyler Durden, his anti-establishment alter ego. The Fight Club itself is a physical release for all the suppressed rage for a generation that is going nowhere and has to mask their true selves to fit in. A fantastic film where the fractured reality is withheld till the very end, this film does enter the protagonist’s life at a very strange time as confessed and shows us the full extent of the warped human psyche. The exploration of the human psyche and grasping with reality is portrayed with a level of masterfulness that Fincher did not attain in The Game.
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2. The Truman Show (1998)
A satirical science fiction show starring Jim Carrey and directed by Peter Weir. Without giving much away about the plot of this show, let me just say that an unsuspecting person on finding out his life is actually a reality show and that his love interests and affairs have been sabotaged to make for good television one might react the way Truman Burbank did. A film that explores existentialism, simulated reality, and metaphilosophy, imagine if Douglas’ character was disrupted because a game interfered with his life, then how might Truman feel when he realized that his entire life was a game for the audience and the show curators.
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1. Shutter Island (2010)
Directed by Martin Scorsese, this film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo. The plot follows two FBI agents visiting a psychiatric facility for the criminally insane on an island called Shutter Island. The charge is that a patient has gone missing, and the agents uncover that the doctors might be carrying out illegal procedures on the patients. However, one of the agents is also dealing with the death of his wife. However, after a thrilling investigation which Scorsese handles expertly, the climax of the movie is where DiCaprio’s character realizes that the investigation was a constructed reality to help him realize that his conspiracy theories were unfounded. However, the movie ends on a more or less ambiguous note when the audience is not sure whether the patients are subjected to illegal procedures as DiCaprio’s character’s fate is never shown and we are left questioning if the insane man is the sanest one on the island.
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