Saturday, 2 November 2019

Ready Or Not (2019) - Movie Review

A newlywed couple, on the night of their wedding, are brought to the groom’s lavish estate for a family tradition: A night of games. If the bride wins the game, she has earned her place among their ranks of the Le Domas’, an illustrious family that has made a tidy fortune in games of all sorts. But as the game begins, the bride realises that things are more sinister than they already appeared at the start: It’s less fun and games and more game hunting, with her as the prey.

The latest chance for Aussie starlet Samara Weaving to stake her claim to the cinematic landscape, this darkly comedic horror flick feels like a combination of the psycho in-laws of Get Out with the nods toward ritual sacrifice that was peppered throughout The Cabin In The Woods. However, rather than serving as a critique of race relations like Get Out or the tropes of modern horror like Cabin, this particular feature serves basically as a free-for-all pisstake of the well-off.

Weaving’s intensely physical performance here as the newest victim of the family’s version of Hide And Seek really lets her show some ‘final girl’ cred, selling each increasingly gruesome showing of gore like a champion. The components of the rich family are all performed well, from Kristian Bruun as the man who uses YouTube tutorials to figure out how to fire a crossbow, Melanie Scrofano as the profoundly-inept cokehead, a welcome return from Andie MacDowell as the matriarch, and Adam Brody in one of the most surprisingly complex character performances I’ve seen in a while.

Honestly, more than anything else, that’s what really sticks out about this feature: The time and care writers Guy Busick and R. Christopher Murphy put into the characterisation across the board. For a story setup that pretty much banks on the antagonists being heartless monsters, the film constantly makes it a point to make them more three-dimensional than that would imply. From their varying levels of willingness to even participate in the game, to their chaotic relationships to one another, not to mention the down-to-earth sense of humour they all seem to share, it helps add to the production’s aspirations as tongue-in-cheek horror comedy.

But while the horror standards here are bloody but tame in places, and the humour just as hit-and-miss, the most noteworthy thing about this comes from its intentions as class satire. Specifically, its repeated looks at the idea of traditions, be they cultural or familial, and what they say about the people who adhere to them. It makes some pretty sound points about the state of things when something this cracked-out is simply routine for this family, and it ultimately takes the same road as Cabin in its final condemnation of an existence predicated on this much bloodshed.

Yeah, this is a pretty weird one to think over. I have no shortage of good things to say about it, and I can definitely say that it succeeds at what it sets out to do. But because its stylistic influences are as prominent as they are, and said influences are very thematically-charged efforts that make for some of the best works in the genre, this didn’t make as big an impact on me as it reasonably should of. It’s a good movie, there’s no denying that, but it could’ve been better.

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