As interactive digital entertainment, video games engage and boost the imagination. Unsurprisingly, terrifying horror titles found their way onto the silver screen – with contrasting results!
As John Carpenter (director of the Halloween film) said in an interview with Interview Magazine: ‘Horror is a reaction; it’s not a genre.’ We all can agree the scariest video games trigger intense reactions. It would be silly not to use their deep stories and suspenseful atmospheres to make a movie, especially since there are so few decent horror films.
The game has it all: a ready scenario, characters, atmosphere, and surprising plot twists. But somehow, not all adaptations lived up to our wishes. Do you love gaming and scary movies? Great, let’s learn more about films based on the spookiest games!
History of Video Game-Inspired Movies
It is not surprising that the first film adaptation of a game ever raised so many gamers. Starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo in the leading roles, Super Mario Bros had little to do with the game.
But made up for it with a unique (and slightly trippy) 90s atmosphere. Soon, in 1994, another cinematic adaptation appeared – Street Fighter. The wildly beloved franchise starred Jean-Claude Van Damme and the sadly deceased Raul Julia to earn more than the Super Mario Bros movie.
The fighting genre’s immense popularity meant the arrival of the one and only Mortal Kombat. The film version saw the light of day in 1995, making $122 million as the highest-grossing game adaptation until Pokemon: The First Movie. Since then, movie versions of video games have sprung up like mushrooms after rain.
We got another Mortal Kombat, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Blood Rayne, Hitman, Warcraft, and more. But only these first three movies paved the way for all future video game adaptations. They combined cheap special effects with comedic features to generate something new and inspire video game horror movies as we know them today. But what resulted from this historical influence? Have the new adaptations gotten any better? Let’s see!
Detention inspired one of the best horror films, telling the story of a group of students working in an underground book club during the Martial Law era in 1960s Taiwan. But soon, the seemingly familiar reality transformed into something unimaginably creepy, and young people confronted demonic spirits and their own fears.
What can we say? Eastern horror films flawlessly handle an endless sense of danger, and this one knows exactly what it’s doing. These saturated images and forgotten Taiwanese legends are just the beginning of what makes this movie stand out among other game adaptations.
2. Resident Evil Series
Here’s an example of a movie series that might be fun if you still need to play the game, but not good enough if you already did. Starring the phenomenal Milla Jovovich, the original six films garnered mixed and negative reviews for being more of an action than a horror picture.
Yes, they are full of plot twists and suspenseful scenes. However, many story solutions do not make sense and lack the feeling of approaching danger. Watch the first movie from 2002 (the best one) and see if you like it!
3. Silent Hill
For many players, this recommendation represents one of the most vital horror titles ever to exist. Moreover, the film is crafted so well that non-gamers may be unable to recognize it is based on a video game. Featuring an iconic spooky town, legendary monsters like the Pyramid Head, a menacing mystery, and a sense of ultimate despair, the movie perfectly captures the classic
Silent Hill vibe designed by Konami. It is true the plot loosely connects with the game universe. But that’s more of a refreshing effect and a tribute to the original version than an attempt to ruin it.
4. Werewolves Within
This horror movie based on video game delivers a unique blend of comedy and horror – and it is the highest-rated game adaptation! The plot follows a group of random people finding shelter in Baeverfield, where nothing is as it seems.
Ultimately, they accuse each other of being werewolves, which results in some pretty brutal solutions. The film excellently handles the video game’s themes, creating a classic and entertaining story about people trapped in dangerous circumstances.
5. Forbidden Siren
It is another scenario by Keiichiro Toyama (Silent Hill creator), which had the honor of becoming a horror movie. This time, the author combined the inspiration from Japanese legends with the works of one and only H.P. Lovecraft.
That move resulted in a frightening story about people trying to survive on some cursed island. Except for the stiff acting and sometimes odd camera work, the film gets its job done by infusing classic Japanese horror cinema with a breath of fresh air.
6. Alone in the Dark
This movie answers the needs of anyone who prefers to see something go wrong. Based on Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare game, it features the story of Edward Carnby, a paranormal detective, solving a dark mystery in an urban museum.
Apart from the title and the leading character’s name, nothing connects the action of this film with a video game. Moreover, it got two nominations at the Golden Raspberry Awards for the unsuccessful Uwe Boll’s work and Tara Reid’s worst acting.
7. House of the Dead
It is another Uwe Boll’s fail, with a rating of 3% on 61 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. The game tells the story of two agents unraveling the case of odd events in Dr. Roy Curien’s laboratory. Meanwhile, the movie focuses on a group of friends heading out to a rave party on a lone island.
And it is only the beginning of the film’s inaccuracies! If you want to watch it, prepare for weird camera work, bad acting, and an illogical plot. A great horror alternative to films like The Room!
8. Fatal Frame
Loosely based on the game series of the same name, Fatal Frame delights with a classic approach to Japanese horror cinema. The plot develops around a group of girls encountering some rather bizarre events.
There are no jumpscares, gore, or brutal murders. But all these are unnecessary as the atmosphere, sense of unease, and beautifully constructed environment make it a must-watch recommendation for any horror movie fan – even without playing the game.
Fans of the Doom series should be satisfied – this picture faithfully reflects everything you love about the game.
Starring Dwayne Johnson and Karl Urban, Doom is more of an action film than pure horror, brilliantly capturing the atmosphere of an endless battle against demonic creatures – something for enthusiasts of classic action movies with a bit of a terror twist!
10. Dead Space: Downfall
Is there a more appropriate location for a horror movie than a space station? Luckily not, and that’s why we can enjoy this fantastic adaptation of one of the scariest video games ever from Visceral Games.
Despite the mixed reviews, it can be a fun supplement to the game’s story, as its action takes place a little earlier. Also, this is an animated movie full of delicious gore scenes!
Making a horror movie is a tough nut to crack, especially when a video game is its source. As you can see, the Asian film industry is considerably better at adapting video games, but this may be a matter of experience resulting from many years of producing the scariest horror pictures in the world. Nevertheless, this love-hate relationship between gaming and the silver screen still blossoms, and we can all enjoy witnessing it evolve over the upcoming years. Moreover, the classic horror genre is also starting to discover its final shape. So stay tuned because — for horror fans — it’s the best time to be alive!