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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Monday, October 23, 2023

Ready or Not (2018)

I have to be honest I was shocked when I realized I hadn’t covered Ready or Not for the site yet. I discovered this fact when I popped it in to watch for the marathon. I suppose this is a spoiler, but I have loved this one since it was on first release. As an added bonus the first time I saw it was in the drive-in, which was a perfect setting. I guess I’ve already let the cat out of the bag that I’m going to recommend the movie, so I’ll just explain why. But first the plot synopsis. 

Grace, played by Samra Weaving who was on quite a roll with genre flicks at this point, is marrying into a rich family. Her future husband, Alex, is heir to a family fortune made from selling various board and card games. So when Grace is told it is family tradition for her to play a game with the family at midnight the day of her wedding it seems weird but understandable. Plus being an orphan, she really wants a family to belong to. Unfortunately, instead of pulling one of the mundane cards like Old Maid or Chess she gets Hide and Seek. Why is that a bad thing? Here is where the story gets interesting. 

The family has a secret benefactor named Mr. LeBail. Years earlier an ancestor met the mysterious man while traveling on a sea voyage. A deal was struck that he would fund any venture that the family wanted to try. It is also hinted at that they were also guaranteed success which is why they are so damn wealthy. Since this is a horror flick you probably figured out that the family basically sold their souls to the devil or at least some sort of demon. When you marry into the family you have to play a game. It is insinuated that if you are corruptible, you get something silly to seal the deal. On the other hand, if you aren’t then Hide and Seek it is. That means that the family has to hunt you down and murder you before sunrise or something bad happens to them. 

The rest of the movie is the twisted members of the family trying to find and murder Grace. Along the way we see her go from not understanding, to panicking, to pissed off and fighting back as all final girls do. We also see that not everyone is good at the hunting or at least identifying their prey as several household staff find out. Much mayhem (another good movie from Samara Weaving that I need to review eventually) ensues before the dawn comes. 

This is such a great movie. The story is set up quickly with just enough time given to establish that Grace is a good person and the family she married into isn’t. Then we get to the action with the first murder being used as the turning point where our lead realizes she is in trouble. There is a bit of dialogue showing her freaked out but then jumps right back into the violence. Ready or Not is at it’s best when the blood is flowing, and it flows a lot. This is a flick that will grab your attention and never let it go. From the first death… well technically the second as we start off with a flashback, until Grace is smoking on the stairs outside the house something interesting is always happening. The big payoff is teased as maybe being nothing before things get explosive. Heh… trust me if you watch the movie that is a funny turn of phrase. 

The cast is solid with familiar faces like Andie MacDowell (Groundhog’s Day), Henry Czerny (Mission: Impossible) and Melanie Scrofano (Letterkenny) all chewing up scenery as various members of the murderous clan. Though the real highlight is Samara Weaving who has to carry the proceedings in her role as Grace. She is able sell the initial fear and then anger thru her performance. She also has some of the best dialogue in recent horror history as she reacts with some profanity heavy lines. Though it doesn’t feel over the top because if your in-laws that you just met were trying to sacrifice you to a demon being pissed off seems like a legit reaction. 

The filmmakers also did a good job with the kills. We get some creative setups with a crossbow bolt to the face, a crushing by dumbwaiter, a bullet to the noggin, a head lopped off, and a plain old shooting. My favorite kill is also where we finally see Grace’s anger come out. When the family matriarch, MacDowell’s character, pushes her luck Grace “introduces” her to the wooden box at the center of the family curse. That is a fancy way of saying she beats her to death with it. While we don’t see the actual kill on screen there is a gag with hair and blood on the box that is pretty good. Speaking of gags, the nail thru the hand bit that is genuinely gnarly and memorable. I challenge anyone to not squirm when they see it. 

I could go on, but I don’t need to. If you haven’t checked out Ready or Not, then you should. This is an excellent bit of recent horror starring an actress that for a few years was making some amazing genre films. Plenty of gore and laughs makes for a great way to kill ninety minutes this Halloween season. 

© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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