Later this month will see the release of 'Catfish' creators Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s latest thriller ‘Nerve’. Emma Roberts and Dave Franco star as a couple of real-world players who immerse themselves into a new online social-based game where they play for increasing amounts of money participating in escalating dares given to them by the “watching” public. Of course in the realm of thrillers and horror this isn’t the first time that such a concept has been put on film so we thought we’d revisit a few of our favourite movies that feature plenty of escalating challenges. Challenges and dares that will certainly leave you thinking about which of your morals and ethics can be bought for the right price.
CHEAP THRILLS, 2013
In E.L. Katz’s 2013 thriller ‘Cheap Thrills’ it’s down-on-his-luck family man Craig (played by Pat Healy) that finds himself with a money-winning opportunity as long as he’s willing to leave his dignity and pain threshold at the door. When Craig and an old friend meet a wily couple in a bar they soon find themselves competing with each other in a number of increasingly warped and sickening challenges in exchange for incrementing bundles of cash. The offer’s too good for Craig to pass up but when the dares are upped how far is he willing to go?
13: GAME OF DEATH, 2006
This excellent and often hilarious little Thai thriller also takes the idea of upping the ante in the dare-for-money stakes. As usual the character at the centre of these challenges is out of luck, out of money and in this case out of a job so he’s the perfect target for such perverse and exploitative games. He receives a strange call offering him money just to kill a fly, then a subsequent offer telling him he’ll receive money for eating said fly. If he’s willing to tackle all 13 challenges he’ll receive 100,000,000 Thai Baht (just over £2 million) for his troubles. But when later challenges get even worse, involving eating faeces and murder, there are plenty of moral implications to take into account even for such a tempting payday.
13 SINS, 2014
Most of us enjoy the odd flutter, trying our luck on various casino-based and bingo related sites, but when you simply have no money, and no upcoming prospects, desperation can instantly kick in. And so in ’13 Sins’, Daniel Stamm’s (‘The Last Exorcism’) remake of the aforementioned Thai thriller ’13: Game of Death’, it’s up to Elliot (played by Mark Webber) to decide if he is willing to participate in 13 incrementally twisted games. Not as entertaining as ‘Game of Death’ but there are a few twists on the games and dares that featured in the original and there’s even a small role for ‘Hellboy’ star Ron Perlman.
THE ‘SAW’ FRANCHISE, 2004-2010
It’s the most financially successful horror franchise of all time and in order to get the full picture of the complete story you do legitimately need to sit and watch all 7 chapters back-to-back as most of you who simply dip in mid-way through will likely be thoroughly lost. Even though like most franchises there are a few instalments that are weaker than others in it’s entirely and as a whole it’s still a unique and entertaining series which were gladly offered up to horror fans and audiences each and every year during its run. It’s true after a hiatus there is now an 8th chapter in the works but the original 7 have featured choices galore and there has only been a mere handful of those who have even survived Jigsaw’s twisted games.
Unlike the other entries in our list Jigsaw gave all his unwilling player’s the choice simply to live or die. There was no money involved and anyone strong-willed enough to win their particular game were supposedly treated to a fresh perspective on their life, which no-one particularly embraced. Being offered money in exchange to torture or hurt someone else is one thing but when it’s your life on the line that willingness to sacrifice and survive becomes an entirely different animal. The games were varied and interesting and it’s what made the ‘Saw’ brand as memorable and successful as it has been. The scope of Jigsaw’s “games” and his master plan was exposed as each chapter went on with him seemingly clever enough to cover every possible angle and outcome and being able to simply predict what people would do. What the future holds for the series is still to be discovered but we are certain there will be more exciting twists and turns to enjoy for a long time yet.