Dear guests, today I want to talk to you about the recent, dark horror comedy, Ready or Not. The movie stars Samara Weaving (The Babysitter) Andie MacDowell (Groundhog Day) and Henry Czerny (Mission Impossible) as well as a slew of lesser know people in a movie that is all about a very deadly game of hide and seek. One that is aimed at a chuckle rather than a jumpscare. How good is it?
Hide and Seek
Grace (Samara Weaving) is about to marry Alex Le Domas, heir to a family that made their money with board games. She quickly notices how strange her new, filthy rich, in-laws are. Her Aunt never smiles, her father in-law sees her as a golddigger and her sister in-law, her brother in-law clearly is a boozer and her sister in-law clearly is on drugs. The rich sure are different. Yet she has no idea yet how strange the family is. On her wedding night she has to play a game at midnight. The Patriarch tells how their family made a deal with a mysterious man, who promised them fortune if they performed this little ritual. From a magic box you have to draw a card with the name of a game, of all the games one leads to a life or death scenario.. and wouldn’t you know it .. Grace draws that card.. the life or death game being hide and seek. The family starts hunting her with weapons from the earliest days of America. What follows is one of the most twisted and disturbed but funny movies that I have seen in awhile. Because of how polarised it is however, I do find it somewhat tricky to be invested in either the horror or comedy side for it.
Scream and Laugh
While Weaving plays a briljant Grace and kept me invested throughout the entire movie, I had some difficulty how to feel. The movie clearly aims to be funny, with snafu’s happening and zippy and spunky dialogue. There are moments of clear slapstick and the comedy is actually good. The evil aunt calling her niece ‘brown haired niece’ because she just doesn’t care at all about the family and just about their pact and wealth is great and feels both funny and fitting at the same time. The slapstick comes from reasons and the follow-up is acted out well as a well deserved punchline. The revealed set up also makes sense so comedy wise this movie is quite solid and good for a few chuckles. However it is when the horror elements come in we ask ourselves if that chuckle was right or bad. There is this sequence of body-horror somewhere in the middle where Grace suffers some horrible injuries, brought to life in such a visceral manner. I could really feel her pain. There are parts segments in this movie where I really feared for her, once again due to the great acting of our lead actress. This movie is a dark horror-comedy and it certainly lives up to that name, however I would have liked to see it blend a bit more. One scene I am watching a comedy, the other I am watching a horror movie and it pulls both parts off, however each time they switch, you feel like your thrown for a loop.
Watch and Listen
Visually I loved this movie, the Le Domas mansion is so interesting, and it feels like an actual house and not just a set. Clearly some care and clever design went into this place. It feels like the family owns this place, their signature can be read all over it, from the first generation only mentioned to the modern one we see today, it feels like they all had their impact on this place and which room goes where makes sense.Because this house has ‘servant’ exits as a sort of “secret’ passageways (not a spoiler this is in the first five minutes of the movie) they can play around with who is where in the house at all times as well. A great plan that works quite nice. It also looks stunning. The way scenes are chosen to be filmed (in a cinematography sense) with very close shots of everyone makes the film feel a bit claustrophobic while making the mansion seem way bigger. This works greatly and to me amplifies the small scope of Grace misadventures. At times this can lead it to feel a bit ‘reality tv-ish’ because most of the camera work is done by guys holding camera’s without to much rigs and such, which can make the framing a bit boring but it does work for this film and small locations, it never feels like it’s a 2 walled set, it feels as if you are trapped in a room with grace.. and the camera guy. The sound design while nothing special again portrays how quirky and strange the rich can be which is a important theme throughout this movie, so while I wont remember anything except for two pieces of music, it does work.
Write and Rewrite
The movie’s plot focuses on the families deal with a mister Le Bael , who allegedly demands a sacrifice, because his toy gave a certain card, and whether or not this belief is just rich man superstition or not, slowly building up to their memorable and funny conclusion. Writing-wise I have some issues with the movie though. Two very important characters flip around in their beliefs a lot, Grace moves from frail and scared to ‘final girl’ very quickly and the movie sets up a few plot points that it doesnt follow up on. It works well in the theme of ‘rich people are weird and quirky’ but really it could have been a bit more tweaked. Most of the family stay extremely superficial throughout the movie where they never get past their trope. It fits the cult feeling of this movie very well but it reduces the impact of outsmarting people. Grace managing to sneak by the oblivious guy or the uninterested woman , who only cares for the family for their money, doesn’t seem like too much of a victory. However one person hunting Grace is depicted as almost a Terminator. Locating her with pinpoint precision, taking plenty of abuse and even catching up with her in a seemingly impossible situation. While the movie sketches a interestingly and deviously dark and funny cat and mouse game, it doesn’t really pace out the wiggle room the mouse has that greatly. There are some rules and confinements in place that limit Grace, but when such an obstacle is overcome the writers have to prevent her from just ‘leaving’ the movie. One in particular feels very forced where we have to assume A LOT in the term of a board game families power. So when the movie gives Grace some freedom and then has a change of heart it kinda feels cheap. One can argue that is okay with cult-horror , but no one particular scene they really messed up combining their terminator with one of these ‘freedom retcons’
Judge and Score
Ready or Not is a good horror-comedy that does a lot of things very well. It however is a movie that never becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Each scene I value on it’s own and most score pretty high. Never though did I really feel I was watching anything but a movie. It did not suck me in, but it did made me relax and laugh and enjoy my popcorn. In movies like Maleficent 2 , I hate the convenient twists and the extremely unlikely ending. It tries to be an epic and make us feel for the character and get sucked into their world, thusly anything that I would think never happen… I deem as bad. The disney movie having plenty of that. This one though very much knows that is cult and campy pulp, from the trope-like concept to it’s execution, it never pretends to build an amazing world or mythos. There is just this 90 minute movie meant to entertain you in a really nothing more nothing less type of deal. So how do I rate this? This one is a bit tricky. For what it is it’s a great and very enjoyable watch. Yet it is also too shallow to be really good. .. So with that in mind I have no choice but to rank it as a Berry-Kiwi cocktail. If you can turn of your sense of logic for 90 minutes it is more than likely a Berry Good movie. If you want some semblance of sense.. you’ll mostly taste the Okiwi, but all in all this a great blend.