Ready or Not
WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES (2019)
Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin // Tyler Gillet
Starring: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O'Brien, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell
Who wants to play a game?
Hide and Seek was already taken as a name, so Ready or Not had to suffice. From Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillet, Ready or Not is a welcome addition to the recent horror canon – horror-comedy to be precise – and focuses on newlywed Grace (Weaver) having to survive the night as her slightly unhinged new rich in-laws put her through their traditional family initiation test/game, which, in this case, is a deadly game of hide and seek (it could also have been chess or backgammon…) Hide and fight to survive or die.
The marketing was pretty decent, the trailer looked enticing and provided a good glimpse as to the tone and the movie itself ended up being just what the trailer promised – dark, dirty fun. As with any movie like this (or just…any movie) this had great potential to really be quite bad, it needed good performances, good momentum, and good gags and, handily, Ready or Not delivers on all fronts. That’s not to say this is a perfect movie because it isn’t but it gets the basics right. The story gets going straight away and the exposition itself, to begin with, is fairly light, the filmmakers clearly wanting to get to the bloody mayhem, so we as an audience are thrust straight into what we came for. From the first accidental (yet hilarious) death to the blood-soaked finale, there’s no real let up here – and there’s no shortage of tension either amongst the levity. The kills are both blunt and inventive without ever straying into Home Alone-esque trap territory and the humour is surprisingly consistent and well-placed. It’s fun, macabre black comedy which is fully aware of itself and embraces its oddball tone. The message is clear – the rich are bad (in a nutshell) however, this message gets convoluted with each scene that passes and isn’t entirely well presented.
Your movie is only as good as your performances and the cast are all on point. Samara Weaving (who was so good in The Babysitter) is great here, effortlessly watchable, committed and a lead whom you want to succeed. She’s becoming quite the bonkers scream queen. Brody, Czerny, MacDowell, and O’Brien are strong in support, as is the rest of the cast (including Kristian Bruun who led the way in terms of humour). Everyone seems to be on point which, again, is crucial for success. There’s a great visual tone too, lots of thick shadows and golden lighting (especially on our heroine) that compliments the old manor house wonderfully as does Brian Tyler’s strings-led score.
Ready or Not is certainly a surprise – as mentioned, this should really have been throwaway and not really that good (in this writer’s opinion, anyway). As it turns out, it’s great fun! It’s not groundbreaking in anyway but it works just when it needs to, it succeeds at what it sets out to be – an entertaining, bloody and, at times, tense horror thriller with an excellent lead showing from Weaving. Grab your mates, grab some beer, some pizza and you’ll have a blast here.
September 5th 2019