“Ready Or Not” Depicts Hide & Seek In The Best Way & When The Movie Ends, You’ll Be Glad You Were A Part Of It. Star Samara Weaving Is Perfectly Casted As The Quirky Badass Bride In The Years Most Entertainingly Gonzo Picture With Explosive Classic Horror/Comedy Violence. Directors Matt Bettinelli Olpin & Tyler Gillett Create A Thrill Ride From Beginning To End. It’s Utterly Fantastic & You’ll Have A Killer Time.
Directors Matt Bettinelli Olpin & Tyler Gillett made their first big splash directing the segment “10/31/98”, from the anthology film “V/H/S”. Their first full length film was 2014’s “The Devil’s Due”, the found footage style film failed to find an audience and became a box office failure. Five years later the duo is back with one of the years most entertainingly gonzo film “Ready Or Not”. The duo find a semi-fresh avenue in cinematic frights and laughs, bringing a violent and humorous round of Hide and Seek, courtesy of screenwriters Guy Busick and R. Christopher Murphy.
Bettinelli Olpin & Gillett learn from their past mistakes, as they avoid the expected cliched notes of horror, instead they work carefully to keep “Ready or Not” as unpredictable as possible. The movie is sicko entertainment that’s a complete thrill ride from beginning to end. It’s the best horror/comedy I can remember since Sam Raimi’s “Drag Me To Hell”. It’s Sam Raimi mixed with Tarantino thrown in for good measure. It’s goofy, entertaining, and has explosive violence right in the middle of the films ghastly events and demented characters.
Australian actress Samara Weaving, best known for her role in the Netflix 2017 original film “The Babysitter” and the Showtime original series “Ash vs The Evil Dead”. Weaving gives what can legitimately be termed as a “star-making performance”, as Grace who is about to marry Alex (Mark O’Brien), oldest son of the rich and powerful Le Domas family. Just before the ceremony, Alex gives Grace the chance to ditch, an offer she no doubt will later wish she had accepted.
For the Le Domas family, it’s their long-standing tradition that anyone marrying into the family must play a game at midnight on the day of the wedding, where unlucky Grace gets randomly dealt the “Hide & Seek” card. The Le Domas family loves games because they were born into it as the family is more famous than Milton & Bradley, creating a collection of famously popular board games. The family is motivated by a dark force, the kind that requires them to keep goats on the property, sends Grace on her way to hide while they arm themselves and seek her throughout the family mansion, equipped with secret passageways.
Alex’s father Tony needs the killing of Grace carried out before dawn, for reasons that aren’t immediately understood, with the writers carefully and brilliantly exposing sections of the backstory throughout the film. Grace first treats the whole thing as a joke by hiding in a dumb waiter before witnessing the real reality of the contest. If Grace can elude her predators including: Alex’s alcoholic brother Daniel (Adam Brody), his parents Becky (Andie MacDowell) and Tony (a superb Henry Czerny), and bloodthirsty Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni looking like an unhinged, punk-rock Julie Andrews) until dawn, she just might manage to get away alive.
“Ready Or Not” does some of it’s best work when the filmmakers indulge in the grotesque or it’s over the top violence, such as a sequence so rotten you can smell the filth, or in it’s gonzo third act that’s soaked in so much blood it rivals the opening club scene in “Blade”.
The only pitfall for me is in the bland presentation of the Gothic manor in which the film takes place. It’s really standard with dim lighting and dark corners that’s eerily Kubrickian, there are a few secret passageways, but nothing here stands out that makes the gigantic prison feel alive or gothic. The wonderfully chilling “The Hide & Seek Song” played here on a Victrola, will immediately go onto your Halloween playlist.
The movie moves very quickly and propels itself from one set-piece to another. As Weaving’s white wedding dress gets more and more stained with red as the film goes on. One of the cleverest ideas “Ready or Not” pulls is giving the villains of the film just as much humanity as the heroine. Some of them don’t want to kill Grace any more than she wants to die, while a few of them do. I like the idea of their desperation and inexperience with the weapons as one of them hides in the bathroom to watch YouTube videos of how to use a bow & arrow correctly.
As wonderful as Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell, Adam Brody and the rest of “Ready or Not’s” ensemble are, Samara Weaving is the glue to it all. Weaving who is Margot Robbie’s clone if there ever was one. It’s hard not to see her as a badass when she rips off the train of the white wedding dress and straps on a belt of bullets. She is a godsend to genre cinema, she’s funny without sacrificing the reality of the horror. Every reaction she has in “Ready or Not” is priceless. After this film and “The Babysitter” she is a bonafide horror superstar.
The script takes what could have been a simple genre cliches and infuses it with fabulous personality and vicious satire about the cult of wealth. It’s been said that money is the root of all evil, but “Ready or Not” cleverly shows that evil is the root of all money. “Ready Or Not” is an homage to the horror delights of the 1970s as Directors Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett, have given this an eerie candlelit look as if it’s a lost Universal Horror thriller. This is a great late summer treat for horror and comedy fans, or anyone who wants something fresh and original. It’s doing very well in theaters and I’m happy for the cast and crew, they deserve it!
This is the kind of film where the surprises are all part of the fun, the kind of film where the third act is so gonzo that you need to go in blind. The less you know the better, just know that it’s fantastic and you’ll have a killer time. Speaking of killer, the last scene and line is absolutely spectacular. There’s so much that “Ready or Not” gets right and if your willing to play the game, you’ll be happy you did.
GRADE: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5)