Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Movie Review: "Ready or Not" (2019)

Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
Year: 2019
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 38 minutes

Grace has just married into the wealthy Le Domas family, but to be accepted into the fold, she must participate in a game on the night of her wedding. Many of the games are safe, but if she draws "Hide and Seek," a deadly version of the game will be played out, thanks to a family pact made over a century ago.

Movie still for the 2019 thriller Ready or Not where Samara Weaving's character Grace holds up a Hide and Seek playing card and seals her fate
"I honestly can't wait to be part of your moderately fucked up family." (Image Source)
It's not difficult to imagine some wealthy dynastic family having to commit regularly occurring human sacrifices to maintain their position of power. We're sure it happens all the time! "Ready or Not" is directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who are known for directing horror movies like "The Devil's Due" and the "10/31/98" segment of the horror anthology "V/H/S." The script is written by Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy (not that Ryan Murphy). It tells the story of a woman named Grace (Samara Weaving), who is about to marry Alex Le Domas (Mark O'Brien) of the Le Domas gaming dominion. Grace is nervous about marrying into such a wealthy family, especially considering her background. After her wedding ceremony, instead of celebrating with typical wedding night activities, Grace is asked to participate in a Le Domas family tradition: a game night. If she does, she will be accepted into the family fold, something she desperately wants. Most of the games are everyday games like chess and checkers, but one, Hide and Seek, involves something extra. If Grace draws the Hide and Seek card, it means she will be hunted by the Le Domas clan and will be sacrificed before dawn because of a pact the family made over a century ago that granted them all their wealth and fame and fortune. Failure for the Le Domas household means losing everything, maybe even their lives.
"Ready or Not" (2019) movie still where Kristian Bruun, Melanie Scrofano, Andie MacDowell, Henry Czerny, Nicky Guadagni , Adam Brody, and Elyse Levesque stand next to each other with their old fashioned weapons drawn
"You'll do pretty much anything if your family says it's okay." (Image Source)
Movies about wealthy people hunting humans for sport is not a new concept. We have seen numerous films use this idea in one way or another, whether it be in action films like "Hard Target" or "Surviving the Game," or even in a purely silly comedy like "The Pest." It has been done before, but that doesn't mean we can't see a slightly different approach to the same subject and not find it enjoyable. Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have done just that with the immensely fun "Ready or Not," changing the formula slightly by having the story take place on a wedding night that also involves an odd oath and satanic family rituals. They have also made this movie a dark comedy horror, so along with tension, blood, and gore comes plenty of laughs deriving from some pretty terrible stuff.

Samara Weaving does a fantastic job as a nervous bride from a rough background who is eager to please her new in-laws. She embraces the comedy and horror elements when needed. She gives a killer performance as a woman who has just discovered that she has married into a lunatic family and will be fighting for her life before even being carried over the threshold. Once the game of 'hide and seek' gets underway, we found ourselves rooting for Grace to survive through the night. The supporting cast shines as well. Henry Czerny is absolutely mental as an evangelical type of psychopath who justifies his behavior and is willing to do what it takes to hang on to what his family has. Andie MacDowell is also excellent as a mother who likes her new daughter-in-law but is willing to kill her to protect her family and the luxurious lives they have become accustomed to having. "Ready or Not" is not just about the guts and bloodshed. There is also an underlying commentary about privilege and affluence. It shows how wealthy people live in a bubble and don't understand that the things they do are not always the same as what the average person does. Playing a game on your wedding night might be acceptable if it involves sexy dice and a feather tickler and, you know, only the two people who just said "I do," but it's not ordinary if it's a family-wide murder hunt for the newly betrothed. Huh, shocker! The Le Domas clan thinks nothing of the bizarre tradition they've been carrying out for decades because they act like the things they do are justifiable. In turn, the story also has a lot to say about religion and what people will accept as "normal" conduct no matter how unorthodox or morally questionable it might be just because people we trust, like our family members, say it's right.
Samara Weaving, wearing her dirty wedding dress, crawls out of a pit in a movie still for the 2019 horror film "Ready or Not"
"It's true what they say. The rich really are different." (Image Source)
"Ready or Not" is a splendid horror movie ripe with commentary, bloodshed, dark humor, excellent performances, tension, and thrills. We had a hell of a lot of fun watching it.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.2/10
RT Rating: 87%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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