In Brief: Ready or not, here is some serious horror movie fun!
Ready or Not is about a game making family playing a game. This is game makers as in Parker Brothers, or Milton-Bradley or one of those companies. A century or so ago the family patriarch cut a deal with a Mr. Le Bail. He gave them a device to name a game to play when a new member joins the family. Use the device — Le Bail said — and fabulous wealth follows.
The device is also designed to give the demonic Le Bail a sacrifice.
The new member and the family have to play whatever game the card calls out. Be the tag-you’re-it new person in the game, and then make a mistake before the sun comes up and death is all but certain.
By the way, in this case the game is not tag. It is hide and seek, thus the title.
Ready or not here we come — armed to the teeth with guns, knives, axes, crossbows and more — happens to Samara Weaving’s Grace. Dressed in a gorgeous wedding gown, she marries spineless but rich Alex who is troubled about the whole thing but still fails to tell her exactly what marrying him means. Translation: the death do us part of the nuptials might be before the honeymoon.
The game begins at midnight with Grace told to go hide, and hide well. She doesn’t — of course — and spends the rest of the movie dodging death.
Weaving (The Babysitter, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) serves as the film’s fulcrum. She gives a believable — if a plot and this type of character can fit that definition — and very good performance that runs the movie gamut of so scared that movement is impossible to determined to win and keep her life at all costs. All the while she and others in the cast are tossing off witty one liners that give the film its humor.
It’s a demanding role that had to be a lot of fun since all of the humor, and the film’s life revolves around her life and death dilemma.
The family members are a bumbling lot and are played by Andie MacDowell, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien, Henry Czerny and others. They stumble through a very, very funny script that contains as much slapstick as it does dramatic moments.
The most fun — however — is had by Nicky Guadagni who plays creepy Aunt Helene. She’s an axe-toting psychopath who has nothing but disdain for the family but delights in the game.
Movies like Ready or Not either work very, very well or they totally bomb. Play it straight and the latter is the likely, and eventual outcome. Since the suspension of disbelief is critical to the movie’s premise, a liberal sprinkling of humor to go along with the horror is a must.
Put in a laugh or two here and there and the movie has a chance.
Horror also isn’t a complete picture of Ready or Not. It’s tagged as horror, a comedy, a drama, a thriller and is also being identified as suspense. The suspense is predictable suspense but it is suspense nonetheless.
Ready or Not is written by two guys the average moviegoer has never heard of, and is directed by two men that are equally unknown. That, too, is a plus. With nothing to lose, they hoist up their pants, slap their hands together and go to work.
As a result, Ready or Not is the most fun you’ve with a horror movie in a long time. You — I suspect — will react as I did. You will leave the theater with a huge smile on your face and agree with me that Ready or Not has game.
Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett
Stars: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell, Nicky Guadagni, Melanie Scrofano, Kristian Bruun, Elyse Levesque, John Ralston
Rated R for mature themes, language, horror and violence. This is predictable as hell but, damn, more movies that are predictable should be this good and this much fun. Ready or not, here comes a 5 on the Friday Flicks with Gary 0 to 5 scale.
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Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.