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October horror movie marathon: Ready or Not

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Before you delve into this review, be sure to take a look at the rest of the Halloween marathon

Ready or Not

Being one of the few horror movies at the cinema in October (it was released September 25th), Ready or Not is one of the few options for horror fans to sink their teeth into.

It’s directed by the duo of Matt-Bettinelli Olpin and Tyler Gillet and stars Samara Weaving as newly-wed, Grace who marries into the Le Domas family (owners of the Le Domas gaming empire). But her wedding night is quickly cut short by the Le Domas wedding night tradition (or ritual, if you will).

With every wedding within the family, the newly-wed must choose a card and play the game written on the card. This concept is pretty fleshed out at first, with members of the family revealing the games they had picked in the past. For some it was chess, for others it was Old Maid, but Grace picks the hide-and-seek card, unbeknownst to her what that actually means. The scene in which this all unfolds is directed wonderfully, subtly showing each family member’s fear at what’s about to happen.

Whereas any other game being drawn would simply mean some friendly competition, hide-and-seek means the family must hunt and kill Grace before dawn. 

As Grace runs through the manor looking for a good hiding spot, the family arm themselves (everyone except for Alex, of course) and begin the hunt, all the while Grace is none the wiser, hiding in a dumbwaiter. Eventually, she leaves the dumbwaiter and discovers very quickly that the family aren’t just trying to hunt her – they’re trying to kill her. 

As the film moves on and Grace dodges death multiple times, she makes both a mental and physical transformation (not nearly executed as well as Matilda Lutz’ transformation throughout Coralie Fargeat’s brilliant movie Revenge) through the tearing of her flesh and blood-stained dress. This transformation is sullied by the fact that, until near the end, the majority of her injuries are her own fault, but overall it’s a good idea, and one that works reasonably well for the character and the story.

Sadly, while Grace’s character changes for the better, the film changes for the worse alongside her. Ready or Not has a wonderful opening thirty minutes or so, introducing the many characters of the story, as well as some backstory and themes. It seems as though the filmmakers don’t seem to realise that everything that has been set up needs to be seen through, rather than left in the dirt, and boy did they leave a lot in the dirt. 

Daniel Le Domas, Alex’s brother, refers to his wife, Charity, as a ‘gold-digging whore’ early in the film, yet when Daniel and his wife are on screen together there never seems to be any resentment or tension. At points they seem stressed but more at the situation than one another. The Le Domas family are also shown to be the owners of their own gaming empire, yet it’s never brought up in any way except as a reason for how and why the entire situation is happening. With both examples so much more could have been made of them. Daniel and Charity’s bickering could have been a reason for them failing to catch Grace. The Le Domas’ history within board games could have been used as a way to introduce traps set around the house or even for the family appearing to be more cunning and intelligent than they come across.

Besides the troubles with setups never paying off, every single character is badly written: Daniel is an alcoholic, Adam is the good son, Tony is the leader/father of the group, Helene is old and sinister, Fitch is dopey and Emilie is clumsy. That’s it. There’s nothing else to each character bar their one characteristic. This affects the tone of the film as when these characters do anything outside of their expected characteristics, it comes out of nowhere and feels jarring. 

The movie does have its redeeming qualities but most of them lie in Samara Weaving, who has once again proven herself to be both a rising actor to look out for and an upcoming figure in the world of horror due to her work on Ash vs the Evil Dead, The Babysitter, Mayhem and now this. No matter the quality of the project, Weaving is always on top form.

Ready or Not is passable as a good time, moving quickly for the most part, but the generic direction it takes leaves a lot to be desired.

Rating = 2/5 flicks

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