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It shouldn’t be hard to market a movie. You have all of the footage that may or may not be used in the final cut, you are told to show off what the film is about in two minutes. It shouldn’t be that hard, but studios and distributors find ways to bend and stretch what the film is about because they don’t have faith in the end product. There are many examples of a film being marketed, and the trailers showing off a film that’s not actually what the end product is. You have your Collateral Beauty, your I Kill Giants, and so on. That’s why it is refreshing when you watch a trailer, and what you see, is what you get. Today’s review is of a film that isn’t shy or nervous to hide what it’s about, Ready or Not from Fox Searchlight and directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett.
The story revolves around a newlywed bride named Grace, played by Samara Weaving, who is marrying the son of a wealthy family that has made who knows how many millions off of board games. On the night of the wedding ceremony, Grace is told that she has to play a game with the family. It’s a tradition that anyone new joining the family has to play a game with them. Grace ends up pulling a card from a specific box, and the card says Hide and Seek. It then turns into an adult game of the classic children’s game, but instead of innocent fun, it turns into a game of survival as Grace is hunted down by the family. Can Grace survive until dawn, and why do they want to kill her?
I adore movies like Ready or Not. It reminds me of my Upgrade review, what you see is what you get. Do you want a movie about a newlywed bride? You got it! You want to see said bride running for her life because a wealthy family has an insane and idiotic ritual when introducing people into the family? That’s there, too! Do you want the movie to be aware of its entire premise and have fun with it? It’s all there in this movie! The film is very aware of how insane the premise is, and runs with it! The family members are fleshed out to have their different quirks, but the film never comes off like it is trying to be like 21 Jump Street. It's aware, but it's not 100% winking at the audience. The family members are all on the same page, and are a blast to watch try and take down the bride. They are a threat and are dangerous, but some are bumbling, one of the family members is tired of this ritual, one is trying too hard, and the eldest sister is delightfully over-the-top.
Of course, if the film was just all about the killer family, then it would have been boring. Most horror films fall into the trap of making the killer or threat the most interesting part, and it's understandable, but you do want to root for the lead characters, and you do so with Samara Weaving. You might remember the family members, but Samara is the one pulling everyone through this movie. She's smart and is quick on her feet. You root for her as she tries to outsmart the family members, and, as I mentioned above, she is also on the same page as everyone else.
Now, in terms of ratio of action, scares, and comedy, it's pretty even. It's not "I'm going to be your next month of nightmare fuel” scary, but it will keep you on your toes and make you worry about what could be behind every corner, and who might be there with what weapon. The jokes are at the expense of the rich family. While Samara has her moments of good comedy, the family members are the individuals with the best lines and the best gags. They do show off a few jokes in the trailer, but there are still plenty of laughs and intense moments hidden from the trailers and marketing.
The production values alone show that they had a vision of how they wanted every scene to look. The mansion itself is pleasantly gothic and archaic, the weapons used are old-fashioned, the lighting is perfectly dim, and the few CGI effects that are in the film are schlocky, but schlocky in the way you want them to be for a film like this.
If I had one real major issue with the film, it's that some elements could have been taken a bit more to the extreme. The film does such a good job at flipping common and abused tropes used in horror films like this, and they are executed so well, that you wish they went a bit further. They could have used more gore, more dark comedy punchlines, more awareness, and maybe a slightly different ending. I won't spoil what happens for those who haven't seen it, but I wish they kept flipping the tropes around a touch more, even though I still like what happens with the ending.
Sure, this isn't some masterpiece I'm going to expect to see at award season, and I'm sure it's not going to be in my final top 10 of 2019 live-action films, but it will definitely be a movie I can't wait to watch again. It's a film you rent or purchase for a fun laid-back Friday night get-together with friends. You get a few drinks and you watch the chaos unfold. I highly recommend checking this film out if you can find screenings for it, because its films like this that should be available in theaters. If you want more original projects getting major screen time, then you definitely need to see Ready or Not. It’s one where I will definitely be playing a game of Play it Again, Cam!
Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed it! If you feel like supporting my work, you can become a patron at patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!