After enjoying the shockingly delightful Scary Stories To Tell in The Dark, I thought that my horror movie options for 2019 were reaching their end. And with only a handful of films actually surprising me, I doubted I would see another one this year that would grab my attention. That was, until I had the pleasure of sitting down and enjoying the quirky gore of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s Ready or Not. A film that is both cutting in its dialogue as it is in its gore, which the film lovingly dishes out on.
The film follows a young woman named Grace, who finds herself marrying into the elite household of the Le Domas Gaming Dominion (they prefer dominion). A wealthy family who began their fortunes selling board games and playing cards. Although Grace is happy to have finally found a family, she soon discovers that the Le Domas clan are governed by strange and disturbing rituals. On her wedding night, Grace is expected to play a game with the family, a symbolic initiation into the dynasty. But when she inadvertently picks hide and seek, she soon finds herself the primary prey for her weapon-wielding in-laws.
As far as premise’s go, the film does not break too much new ground. With the primary narrative inciting flashbacks of more popular fare such as Battle Royale, The Purge and even The Hunger Games Trilogy. But thanks to a devilishly funny script and a strong cast of performers, the film finds itself being elevated above any expectation. Samara Weaving practically shines in her role as Grace, even when she is covered in goat entrails and mud, with her performance sometimes recalling the performances of treasured scream queens such as Jamie Lee Curtis and Heather Langenkamp. While Adam Brody supplies a well-layered and even heart-breaking performance as Grace’s new brother-in-law Daniel. A character whose arc in the film is actually surprising in its depth and theme. Andie MacDowell also stands out as a favourite of the cast, with her role falling in line with her performance of Ivy on the popular sitcom Cuckoo.
Both Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett also mark this film with their own interesting style, giving the film a rich and gothic aesthetic which helps to heighten the film to a more artistic and note-worthy level. This film may be the one that lifts their career to bigger heights, especially with how successful it has been compared to the film’s low budget.
But there are some issues that need to be discussed. Although the film primarily relies on gore and violence to cause the horror, it also remains to be a film that is marred by supernatural influence. It’s not as bad as something like Sinister, but it still gives the film a silly quality that may have been better with out. There are also too many teases with Grace’s character. I wanted her to embrace her badassery and really go to town on the crazy family trying to kill her, but it never really happens, no matter how many times its teased by the directors. A special shout-out should also be given to Nicky Guadagni, who gives one of the most melodramatic performances I have ever seen in a movie. If she’s not hamming it up on the weird, she’s running around with an axe like a Looney Tunes character. Truly a performance that will live on through the haze of eternity.
Overall, Ready or Not is an engaging and enjoyable horror flick, that may deserve a second watch in the far future. It may not cover too much ground, but it’s still a film that revels in violence and suspense.