Ready or Not

Review by Rich Cline | 3.5/5

Ready or Not
dir Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
scr Guy Busick, R Christopher Murphy
prd Bradley J Fischer, William Sherak, James Vanderbilt, Tripp Vinson
with Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O'Brien, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell, Melanie Scrofano, Elyse Levesque, Nicky Guadagni, Kristian Bruun, John Ralston, Hanneke Talbot, Daniela Barbosa
release US 21.Aug.19,
UK 27.Sep.19
19/US Fox 1h35

weaving brody macdowell

o'brien and weaving
A strongly comical sensibility makes this bonkers grisly horror movie surprisingly entertaining. The characters may never develop very deeply, but the actors have a great time with the tetchy interaction and especially their explosive reactions to everything that happens. It may not ever be scary, but directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett gleefully crank up the gore as the story progresses.
On her wedding day, Grace (Weaving) is happy to finally have a family after a lifetime in foster care. Her new husband Alex (O'Brien) is part of the Le Domas gaming empire his parents (Czerny and MacDowell) run. On her wedding night, Grace learns of tradition requiring her to draw a card selecting the game they will play. And she draws the worst one, Hide & Seek. Now Alex's parents, siblings (Brody and Scrofano), their spouses (Levesque and Bruun) and a scary aunt (Guadagni) have one night to find her. Carrying deadly weapons.
The entire film takes place in the Le Domas mansion and gardens, which turn even more ominously gothic after dark, especially with talk of blood oaths and family rituals. There are constant references to a mysterious pact made with an ancient magician, leaving open the possibility for supernatural mayhem to emerge along with the already murderous goings on. But the screenwriters hold their nerve, keeping thing grounded in the nasty interaction between the characters as the game reaches a crescendo of vicious nuttiness.

Weaving manages to make Grace a believable character, genuinely in love with O'Brien's somewhat hapless Alex, and unwilling to go down without a fight. Some of her resourcefulness is rather jaw-dropping, as is a particularly uproarious sweary rant. MacDowell lends a bit of glamour to her role, exuding wit and compassion, both of which feel just a bit unhinged. Brody is solid as a relatively complex guy who's understandably dubious about his own family, while Levesque gets the scene-stealing role as his ice-queen wife. And Guadagni is flat-out hilarious.

While the premise sets up some intriguing thematic elements relating to privilege and tradition, the script and filmmaking continually opt for laughs instead. Even the extreme gore is designed to make the audience squirm with delight, often simply because it's so random. So while this low-brow approach is entertaining, it's missing a trick to make things even more punchy by actually being scary while grappling with topics that are already sitting here unexplored.

cert 18 themes, language, violence 16.Sep.19

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S

send your review to Shadows... Ready or Not Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.

© 2019 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall