Ready or Not (2019)
“Ready or Not” stars Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien, Henry Czerny, and Andie MacDowell. Released on August 21, 2019, the film has a young bride surviving a deadly game of “Hide and Seek”.
The film is directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett from Radio Silence, who also directed “Devil’s Due” and the anthology films “V/H/S” and “Southbound”. “Hide and Seek” is one of the simplistic and harmless games that kids can play during their free time. One or more players try to hide in random places while the seeker…well, tries to seek them. It’s as easy as cherry pie and, more importantly, it teaches them how to hide from psychotic maniacs who are trying to kill them for some reason. With the summer movie season drawing to a close, Hollywood is once again attempting to fuel our thirst for some horror fun before we help the kids get ready for another school year. As far as I can tell from the trailers, the film has the makings of being a crazy experience because it puts its own spin on the game of “Hide and Seek”, in which you immediately get the death penalty once you are found. Knowing me, I’m always interested in seeing something crazy as long as its execution works well enough to be considered watchable. With that in mind, let’s see if this twisted game is actually worth playing.
The story follows Grace (Weaving), a young woman who is happily married to Alex Le Domas (O’Brien), one of the members of a rich family. She then has to participate in a tradition in which they have to play a game, which is, in this case, “Hide and Seek”. When she later discovers that their so-called "tradition" is actually an excuse to kill her as part of their mysterious ritual, Grace must rely on her survival skills (as well as her hiding skills) in order to escape with her life. The premise alone has “horror” written all over it, but it also has plenty of comedic elements to make the plot as deranged as the family’s tradition, which could be a nice touch for certain audiences depending on how well it is used. This is another film that could go in either direction. It could wind up being another surprise hit for horror fans or it could wind up being a disappointing way to conclude the summer movie season for the genre…or it could wind up like the directors’ previous horror outing, “Devil’s Due”. Ugh…. Fortunately, it didn’t wind up being the latter. The folks from Radio Silence set out to craft a horror comedy film that’s entertaining and insane, and they accomplished that mission with ease. The story didn’t offer a lot of memorable scares and its ending can be a bit far-fetched for some people despite being a well-crafted shocker, but it never lost sight of being a gleefully thrill ride that happens to have decent characters. It never took itself too seriously, and it had a healthy mixture of R-rated violence and dark comedy to provide a ridiculous, yet enjoyable, experience without getting too over-the-top with one or the other. Samara Weaving delivered some solid acting chops as Grace, the bride who does whatever she can to survive. Her character may look like a female horror victim, but the film didn’t treat her like a one-dimensional horror victim. It treated her like a horror victim that I didn’t mind following. The other actors also did a decent job as the members of the Le Domas family, especially O’Brien as Alex and Kristian Bruun, who delivered some pretty good moments as Fitch Bradley. Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett had a suitable sense of direction when it comes to heart-pounding tension. Combined with a tolerable screenplay, its set pieces, and Brian Tyler’s score, the film was able to keep me on my toes throughout the whole thing while also maintaining the unusual tone the directors were aiming for. The dark humor in the film works surprisingly well with its horror elements as it was able to embrace its messed up nature without straying towards something that resembles an idiotic parody that's filled with offensive jokes. I really wasn’t expecting it to be that hilarious, but it was able to prove me wrong and I am proud of that.
Overall, “Ready or Not” is definitely a game that I wouldn’t mind playing over and over again. What appeared to be yet another average horror film turned out to be a surprisingly fun and well-directed horror comedy film that’s never afraid to admit how insane it is. The actors were solid in their roles, the characters were actually tolerable, and its mixture of dark comedy and violence was nicely-executed by Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett. This is definitely a massive improvement over “Devil’s Due”, and I’m hoping that they’ll continue this streak with another film like this in the near future. If you’re in a mood for something that’s fun and twisted, this film is worth checking out.
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