5 Obscure Horror Films that Would Make Great Video Games

Have you ever gotten to the end of watching a horror film and thought to yourself, “Hey, that’d make a great videogame!”?  

Whilst the history of films-to-games adaptations (and vice versa) has, let’s face it, generally been pretty rough, there are a few gems out there that have shown that making the jump to other forms of media doesn’t have to stink. 2002’s videogame sequel to The Thing was a solid entry into the survival horror genre, for example, whilst 2014’s Alien: Isolation met with critical and commercial success. And hey, it’s even worked the other way around. Whilst the Resident Evil films absolutely stunk (especially so considering what happened to one of the film’s stuntwomen), the first Silent Hill movie was surprisingly faithful to the source material, and 2005’s Doom makes for something of a guilty viewing pleasure.  

In the spirit of speculation, then, we’ve selected five frightening films that we think would make for compelling horror game experiences. Rather than listing the classics that everyone knows about, we’ve instead gone slightly off the beaten track to focus on some hidden gems that may have slipped under the radar. With that said, let’s get started. 

5. Identity

A group of strangers, a stormy night, an empty motel in the middle of nowhere. Identity is a 2003 psychological thriller starring John Cusack (who starred in the equally good Stephen King adaptation 1408), Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, Alfred Molina, Clea DuVall, and Rebecca De Mornay.  

The setup is classic murder mystery stuff with a twist. After circumstance brings ten people together to a motel, someone or something starts bumping them off one by one. However, it soon becomes clear that something even weirder than homicide is going on here.  

Identity would work as a horror game for the same reason it works as a horror film. It’s got an isolated environment, a tight cast, a mysterious premise, and a tense guessing game as you try to work out which person’s next for the chopping block. It’s the sort of thing that would make a great Telltale-like game or detective experience, with multiple endings depending on the player’s choices and discoveries. 

4. Triangle

Triangle is a British-Australian thriller released in 2009. Several friends on a yachting holiday get caught out by a freak storm, casting them adrift and leaving them way off course. Salvation seems to come when they manage to board an abandoned ghost ship, until they encounter a mysterious killer intent on picking them off one by one. 

Much like Identity, there’s so much about Triangle’s setup that would make it a good horror game. An empty cruise liner is the perfect setting for a tense game of cat-and-mouse, with multiple narrow corridors to ramp up the sense of claustrophobia. But without giving too much away, it’s the film’s twist that’s the real draw here. Want to know what we mean? You’ll just have to watch the film to find out.  

3. In the Mouth of Madness

Okay, enough psychological films about an ensemble cast getting killed in an isolated locale. In the Mouth of Madness is a 1994 film directed by the legend of horror John Carpenter. The film was Carpenter’s third and final installment of his ‘apocalypse trilogy’, consisting of this film, The Thing and 1987’s Prince of Darkness. A homage to the works of H.P. Lovecraft, the movie tells the story of John Trent (played by Sam Neill), an insurance investigator hired to track down a missing author whose pulp horror novels have been known to have an unusual effect on readers. 

Whilst trying to make a Lovecraft adaptation is not without its dangers, In the Mouth of Madness is a cut above the rest. Partly, this is down to Carpenter’s skills as a screen director, but it’s also because of the movie’s clever overarching narrative. ‘Meta-horror’ is a pretty pretentious phrase, but it’s the only one that fits here, as the movie smartly deconstructs concepts like cosmic horror, reality-altering forces, and the effects of belief to tell a twisting story-within-a-story.  

Horror games are ripe for this kind of treatment. Game logic things like the time-altering effects of a save and repeat protagonist deaths are already pretty unnerving, and it’d be interesting to explore these elements in a place like the film’s foreboding New Hampshire town of Hobb’s End. Do you read Sutter Kane? 

2. Vanishing on 7th Street

Vanishing on 7th Street is a 2010 film directed by Brad Anderson that stars Hayden Christensen, Thandiwe Newton, and John Leguizamo. Criminally underrated, this movie is truly the stuff of nightmares, channeling the same unnerving dream logic of things like The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds at their very best.  

The film follows a group of ordinary people in Detroit trying to survive a city-wide (and possibly worldwide) event that defies all reason. The days are getting shorter, shadows seem to move on their own, and anyone caught without a light simply disappears into thin air. There’s a sense of a silent apocalypse going on here; a situation where the basic laws of nature have become inexplicably malevolent. For anyone who enjoyed the 2001 J-horror film Pulse, this is a must-see.  

The film’s premise would make for a terrifying horror game. Picture this; an open-world survival game where the player has to hold out for as long as they can by finding any source of light, however fleeting. Rather than gunning down waves of zombies, here the threat is truly omnipresent, with some nameless but terrible fate hovering only a few burnt matches or dead flashlight batteries away.  

1. Dog Soldiers

Sitting at the top spot for this list is Dog Soldiers, a darkly comical 2002 action horror film by Neil Marshall starring Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Emma Cleasby, and Liam Cunningham. On a routine exercise in the Scottish Highlands, a group of British squaddies finds themselves hounded by a pack of deadly werewolves. Taking casualties and with nowhere else to go, they’re forced to hole up in an empty farmhouse in an attempt to survive the night. 

Dog Soldiers is one of those films that makes the most out of a simple premise. You’ve got some monsters, some guys with guns, and a rickety old house in the woods; throw in a few well-done action sequences and some cheeky English humor, and you’ve got one hell of a good time.  

Dog Soldiers is just the kind of thing that’s right for a videogame. In the film, the werewolves are virtually invulnerable, able to soak up bullets with little ill effect. Whilst hunkering down and shooting hordes of mindless monsters is something horror games have done before, it’d be interesting to see a title where players have to fend off a handful of intelligent and highly durable enemies instead. With ammunition reserves a constant concern, there’d also be room for emphasizing the ‘survival’ aspect of survival horror. You could start out armed to the teeth with assault rifles and shotguns, but by the end, you’d be down to wielding fire axes, hot frying pans, and whatever else you could find. Come on then if you think you’re hard enough!