A dystopian future is unveiled where we, the viewers are slowly and inexorably drawn in to a world eerily similar to our own and yet terrifyingly different. Riddles that must be solved, but no one has a clear answer for why they are solving them, except that if they don’t: they will die. This has been a trend in movies that seems to be growing over the past few years. Watching The Maze Runner and waiting for the sequel where a virus is introduced into the endless mind games that make up the world left me asking if I had seen something similar before.
Movies Like Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
The Hunger Games captured our imagination with Katniss offering to play the mother of all reality TV shows to save her baby sister from the same fate. Katniss is an incredibly powerful superhero with an air of mystery and dignity that no surveillance or mind game can ever quite penetrate. She is under constant surveillance in an enclosed world where there can only be one survivor.
Although the Capital and WCKD (wicked) have a lot in common, the rules for the tributes, or game show contestants are more or less made clear to all the players at the start. They all know they are being punished for a rebellion years before and there is at least some rational offered to those about to die. In the Maze Runners world, the rules aren’t nearly as clear and the motives of WCKD are frighteningly alien. The rules are constantly changing and this adds to the terror and uncertainty of the players involved.
Divergent and Insurgent are another example of a bubble of people who are cut off from the outside world and aren’t aware that they are test subjects in a societal experiment. Again, unlike Maze Runner, the rules of society are clearly laid out. Even though the reason for the societal structure and brutality later turns out to be false, there are rules that can be followed.
The Giver is on the very far end of this spectrum. The society is in a bubble where anything special has been taken away to prevent conflict. The populace is drugged to keep them placid and even death is just a ‘going elsewhere’ celebration.
In every case, the same theme runs throughout: game shows and societal experiments, a lack of freedom and constant monitoring. The similarities are as striking as their popularity. Why are these movies resonating with us so strongly that we can’t get enough of these themes? Whatever the case, there are a lot of movies to watch while we wait for the next movie in the Maze Runner series!