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« Oscar Trivia, Weekly: Everything Cate Blanchett | Main | The New Classics: Inglourious Basterds »
Tuesday
Aug202019

Review: Ready Or Not

by Chris Feil

There’s something almost luxurious in store for horror fans in Ready or Not, this week’s late summer horror film du jour that is nevertheless indispensable for genre fans. Like an oasis for those seeking something along the lines of Kevin Williamson’s wit and Tobe Hooper’s sense of straightforward menace, the film feels like both a throwback and the freshest, crispest antidote to the more brooding mainstream horror trends of late. It gives us the genre’s benchposts and in mighty form: laughter and jolts in equal measure, a distinct iconography, and a brand new scream queen.

The film succeeds largely on its clarity of vision, a simple concept that becomes a playground for its psychological interests. Here director duo Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (billed together as Radio Silence) look to skewer the dogma of rich people, delivering a delightful horror farce that’s a little bit like a roided Agatha Christie in the best way...

Our heroine is Samara Weaving’s Grace, arriving on her wedding day to the opulent mansion of her fiance Alex’s (Mark O’Brien) estranged family. Grace is unburdened by the fact she is an average person outsider among this filthy rich lot, more amused than unfazed by their intense and ominous airs. The Le Domas family (headed by Henry Czerny and and a constantly smoking Andie MacDowell) earned their fortune in the board game industry, but their stature has been upheld by a not-so-benevolent spirit that demands a ritual welcome to all who enter the family. That means a game of Hide and Seek that’s more than meets the eye for Grace, with violence and mayhem ensuing through the night and into the dawn.

Though the film isn’t always as smartly rendered in its supernatural elements or its comedy pitched precisely, its real world thrills are immensely satisfying. With a script by Gary Busick and the trademark quippiness of Ryan Murphy, the film keeps its rules simple so that its the character dynamics that stir its laughs and its tension. There are abundant familial resentments and character flaws throughout that spark authenticity into the farce. Though Ready or Not is as bloodhungry as any genre fare of its ilk, it generates its laughter not from violence but from the Le Domas’ haplessness. Even as Grace runs for her life, its the Le Domas family that are the truly terrified ones.

Much of what gets us so invested in Ready or Not is of course Grace, and Weaving is truly an exciting discovery. Grace isn’t a dim bulb or weakling of lesser horror substance. Instead she finds herself dooped into this scenario both out of her steadfastness to prove the opposite to the haughty Le Domas’, diving into their game to demonstrably show how well she can fit into their dynamic. When Alex reveals the full story of their demonic circumstance and his complicity to it, her emotional response is complicated rather than unquestioning. Weaving chews into the dialogue’s one liners with camp relish, filling Grace with equal layers of badass and vulnerable, believable hero the likes we have been craving for ages.

Ready or Not is gauchely delicious satire of rich people terrified by the volatility of their power. With confident visual prowess and narrative leanness, the film blends textures of home invasion thriller, supernatural horror, and slasher film into something more impressive than its surface might suggest. It might even be a future classic.

Grade: B

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Reader Comments (3)

this sounds like something I’d dig! happy to now have it on my radar

August 21, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterhuh

The trailer looks like fun. Doesn’t the actress look like Margot Robbie?

August 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPedro

When I looked at the photo of the full cast, everyone looked so familiar.

Look, it’s Donnie, Alison’s husband on Orphan Black. There’s the evil dad from Revenge. And there’s Wynonna Earp! Wynonna Earp!

I looked them all up, and the supporting cast seems to be mainly Canadian (shot in Canada).

IMO, Canadian actors are better at satirizing the rich. American actors always have a certain wistfulness, wanting to be rich themselves. Canadian actors are a little more pragmatic, knowing it’s not going to happen.

So they feel a freedom in being just as observantly vicious as they can, including all the little details that enrage people having to deal with the rich and entitled.

August 22, 2019 | Unregistered Commenteradri

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