June 3, 2020

“Ready or Not” Review: Something for Everyone

You drew the wrong card, Grace...
Is there any such thing as an original movie anymore? As in, are there any truly original ideas in today’s entertainment world? Some topics and subjects have been done to death, but some have been barely touched. However, it’s always possible to revitalize a certain topic, and put a new spin on it to create an incredibly enjoyable story that somehow makes you forget about where you’ve seen these elements before.

Take Ready or Not, a wickedly fun hybrid of a number of tropes: weird, darkly comedic in-laws (Meet the Fockers), human hunting (The Most Dangerous Game) and deals with the devil (Damn Yankees). As you can see, these are relatively widespread story elements; however, Ready or Not manages to meld them all together in an extremely entertaining fashion.
Our protagonist is Grace (Samara Weaving), in love and nervous, as she’s marrying Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien), the estranged heir of a family that became impossibly rich in the board game business. The Le Domas family has a tradition: on their wedding night, the new member of the family has to draw a card from Le Bail’s box (gifted to them by the shadowy figure who originally funded the game company). The card will have the name of a game on it, and the family has to play whatever game is drawn. Through the magics of change (or is it fate?), Grace makes the worst possible draw: Hide and Seek.

Hide and Seek turns out to be not as simple as one might remember from their childhood; this game involves hunting down the new member of the family with antiquated weapons. Chases and chaos ensues.

Here we come!
The film doesn’t take too long to get started, and the first act (rife with characterization and set-up) seems to fly by. You’d wish you got to see more kindly interactions between Grace and the family before everyone gets murder on the brain, but the best character moments actually come after the hunt has begun.

The Le Domas family is made up of a number of both hilarious and fascinating characters: there’s Daniel (Adam Brody), an alcoholic who’s the only member of the family Alex seems to be close to; Emilie (Melanie Scrofano), Alex and Daniel’s coke-addicted sister; creepy aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni); sympathetic mother Becky (Andie MacDowell); and intense patriarch Tony (Henry Czerny). Believe it or not, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The entire family is fleshed out in some respect over the film’s cleverly short hour-and-a-half runtime, and the little moments of characterization that are sprinkled throughout the story never fail to entertain. Some are funny, some are tragic, and some are just plain interesting. You won’t want to tear your eyes away from these characters, and the majority of the arcs (even the half-developed ones) come full circle. It really is cleverly done.

Honestly, I love most things about this movie. The production design is intricately gothic, the atmosphere is eerie, and the lighting is just warm enough to lull you into a false sense of security before a jump scare.

But the thing I love most about this movie isn’t the acting or the suspense (although both of those are done amazingly well); it’s the soundtrack. Brian Tyler’s score is epically magical, managing to establish both atmosphere and mood, and keep you on your toes while you’re watching. It uses modern instruments and mixing technology, but combines it with solo violin pieces and original lyrical songs, sometimes written to sound classic.

The horror genre needs more dark comedies.
It’s one of those scores that can be listened separately from the film and still be an experience. I’d strongly recommend you check it out.

I’m not sure if I’d classify Ready or Not as a horror movie, but seriously, it’s one of my favorite films that I’ve seen recently. I’d strongly recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of character stories, suspense thrillers, a good laugh, or anything in between. Honestly, even if you’re not a horror fan, there’s something here for everyone (except if you happen to be a kid, because...it’s rated R, and for good reason)[Grade: A+]

Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett

Writers: Guy Busick and Ryan Christopher Murphy
Starring: Samara Weaving, Mark O’Brien, Adam Brody, Henry Czerny, Melanie Scrofano
Rated: R for violence, bloody images, language throughout, and some drug use
Available: Hulu
Fun Fact: The production team only had five candelabras to use, so they had to keep moving them around to populate rooms and hallways where needed.

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