While I think there’s a case to be made in defense of films like Paul W.S. Anderson’s Mortal Kombat and Christophe Gans’ Silent Hill, it’s easy to understand why videogame adaptations were once regarded as the lowest form of cinema. Fortunately, recent years have been kinder to gamers who also like to see their favorite franchises tackle other mediums. From Netflix’s Castlevania to Sonic the Hedgehog and even the upcoming Resident Evil reboot, it feels like studios are finally hiring genuine fans to helm these productions.
This videogame movie renaissance also means that AAA titles aren’t the only ones headed towards the big screen, as we’ve also been graced with surprisingly entertaining adaptations of smaller games like Josh Ruben’s recent Werewolves Within. And with even more indie adaptations on the horizon, I’ve come up with this list of six indie games that could be turned into great horror movies!
Naturally, these aren’t the only indie titles that could benefit from the cinematic treatment, so don’t forget to comment below with games that you would personally like to see adapted into scary movies. We’ll also be leaving out games that are already rumored to have adaptations on the way, so no Little Nightmares or Five Nights at Freddy!
Now, onto the list!
6. Lone Survivor
Jason Byrne’s Lone Survivor may have started out as a simple flash-based homage to the survival-horror classics of yore, but the game’s lasting impact proves that there’s a lot more to this sidescrolling throwback than meets the eye. Chronicling the struggles of a masked protagonist fighting to keep a grip on his own sanity after a mysterious viral outbreak, Lone Survivor would be a no-brainer when it comes to adapting interactive horror to the big screen.
With a real-world pandemic making this setup hit even closer to home, it’s easy to imagine Lone Survivor as a 28-Days-Later styled thriller set mostly within a dilapidated apartment complex. Couple that with the original game’s topical themes of madness and isolation and you’ve got yourself one hell of a freaky horror flick just waiting to happen.
5. Fran Bow
Developed by Natalia and Isak Martinsson as a therapeutic passion project, Fran Bow is a hauntingly beautiful point-and-click adventure title that also happens to feature a creatively designed cast of memorable characters. Taking more than a little inspiration from American McGee’s Alice series, the game follows the titular Fran as she attempts to vanquish otherworldly hallucinations and find her way home after a traumatic experience.
Boasting a surreal art style and some genuinely chilling twists and turns, this is another game that I’m surprised hasn’t already been expanded into either a movie or TV show. An animated retelling of Fran’s story could work either as a gateway horror yarn akin to Henry Sellick’s Coraline or even a full-blown animated horror movie like Raul Garcia’s Extraordinary Tales. Either way, I’d love to see a return to the gloomy world of Fran Bow.
Created by a 2-man team in Argentina back in 2006, Scratches is probably the most obscure title on this list. Even so, there’s no doubt in my mind that this atmospheric point-and-click adventure could easily be adapted into a moody Lovecraftian thriller. While I won’t spoil the eerie details in case you haven’t played this underrated classic, the game follows a writer as he uncovers the dark history behind his newly acquired English mansion.
Featuring minimalist scares and a traditional gothic horror setup (not to mention that genuinely disturbing finale), I’d say that Scratches only needs a single spooky location and a passionate director to make the transition into an effective horror movie.
3. Hotline Miami
Hotline Miami isn’t really a horror game, but I don’t think I’m alone when I say that this stylish top-down murder simulator could be adapted into a legitimately scary movie. Telling a trippy story about masked murderers and Russian mobsters, it’s easy to imagine this game being turned into either an all-out Slasher flick or even a surreal Lynchian thriller, complete with creepy hallucinations and paranoid conspiracies.
Hell, you could even include some of Hotline Miami 2‘s additional backstory into the mix, providing some much-needed depth to our serial-killing protagonist. While the original game’s interactive ultraviolence was meant to make players question how much they enjoyed simulated killing, a cinematic adaptation could expand on that theme by making us horror fans ponder why we have so much fun watching on-screen violence.
2. Murder House
Taking inspiration from the schlocky horror flicks that used to inhabit video stores, Puppet Combo has made a career out of reviving early survival-horror mechanics and aesthetics for a new generation of gamers. With Murder House, the developer has once again set his sights on crafting an interactive Slasher, leading to a brief yet terrifying experience that could easily be translated into an entertaining movie.
In a rare example of an Easter-themed horror story, Murder House follows an unsuspecting news crew who become trapped in the decrepit home of a deceased serial killer known as the Easter Ripper. With a plot already influenced by classic b-movies (not to mention the infamous “Bunny Man” urban legend), a live-action adaptation of the game would make for a great single-location Slasher. Having the protagonists be part of a news crew also provides this hypothetical movie with the perfect excuse for Found Footage mayhem, allowing for even more intimate scares.
1. Slender: The Eight Pages
Beginning life as a spooky meme in the Something Awful forums, it makes sense that Slenderman’s first interactive outing would also become a viral sensation. Parsec Productions’ Slender: The Eight Pages took the internet by storm back in 2012 with its hellish take on hide-and-seek, leading to countless reaction videos as players attempted to gather the titular pages and outrun their faceless pursuer.
While the game was obviously influenced by the Marble Hornets web-series (with the developer eventually partnering with the series’ creators when writing Slender: The Arrival), I’ve always thought that a definitive adaptation of the Slenderman mythos would incorporate the lo-fi thrills of The Eight Pages into a proper Found Footage film. The way I see it, a convincing mockumentary investigating this infamous legend and culminating in a nightmarish chase sequence inspired by the game would be the best way to pay homage to the internet’s most iconic monster.