“Ready or Not” (2019)
Running time: 95 minutes
Written by: Guy Busick & R. Christopher Murphy
Directed by: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett
Featuring: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien, Henry Czerny and Andie MacDowell
Police Officer: “Jesus christ, what happened to you?”
Released this week on DVD/Blu-ray is the latest success story from the genre that keeps on giving in the form of “Ready or Not” (2019) which while it lacks some of the more obvious social commentary than a Jordan Peele film it still says something about the 1%, the origins of power, marriage, family traditions and of course in-laws. While over the years there have been many horrors based around holidays, family events and a host of other familial elements but this new movie combines a wedding, meeting in-laws and what could be considered a bizarre family tradition. There is actually much to enjoy about “Ready or Not” with the core being the family that while they do not all necessarily get along they are bound together by not only the family fortune but also by the demonic ritual they may or may not exist even though this tradition has not actually been performed for that long a time. There is something of traditions to this entire movie which makes it not only a commentary on where society is at the moment but where it is headed and the dogmatic approach some have within society to traditions that have not been in existence for very long at all.
I have made the point before but the past ten years has been a bonanza for genre movies, especially horror, not only does there seem to be more being produced than ever before, especially with the advent of cheap film making equipment, more quality filmmakers entering the genre as well as more production companies realising there is money to be made, especially with the increase in online streaming services. This is where Jason Blum and his Blumhouse production company has entered the market finding a cost/revenue model that works for them, partnering with a major distribution partner in Universal and not limiting itself to theatrical projects, but also partnering with Netflix. What is exciting about this new horror movie is that it does not come from any established horror producers, writers or directors, they are all relatively new to the industry but have created a movie that is a great example of the genre especially heading into a new decade.
“Ready or Not” concerns the wedding day of Alex and Grace who have returned to Alex’s family home to marry, Grace, a former foster child is eager to finally have a family. On their wedding night, he tells her that, as tradition, every outside addition to the family must play a game. Grace has to draw a random card, and the game they have to play will be written there. I will not go into any more details about the plot but it goes from horror to thriller to comedy and back to horror again throughout its narrative which is a juggling act but one that is executed very well.
Written by Guy Busick & R. Christopher Murphy and directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett this movie is a great example of the genre with a female heroine who has a very real journey, unlike the antagonists of the movie who are a perfectly functioning family, from their point of view anyway. This is a well written script with a very well thought out plot and narrative that takes into account quite a number of variables both in terms of character and narrative. In terms of the directors this is only their second full length movie after the surprisingly good anthology movie “Southbound” (2015), with this one being a big increase in budget as well as of course being one long narrative which shows some very real skill. The directors have also been confined to one location with a very large cast, the balancing act while maintaining a very striking visual palate, this should all be applauded, I look forward to their next movie.
In terms of the cast the stand out is of course Samara Weaving who is thee daughter of Hugo Weaving which explains how she is able to act in something like this movie that at times is extremely over the top. The other standouts are veteran actors Henry Czerny and Andie MacDowell who shine as the patriarch and matriarch of the family that not only has a bloody secret but also who are both unwitting in their own way, it is a challenge to play archetypes in a genre movie with originality but both of these actors do a fine job.
The idea of “Ready or Not” is particularly poignant in that it is all about traditions how they are formed, why they are persisted with as well as the complete dogma some have in terms of following them, even when there might be a cost for deviating from them. The movie starts off with a wedding which has be one of the most traditional ceremonies in modern life. What is interesting is that one the key aspects, the white dress worn by the bride, as a tradition has only been in existence for just over a hundred or so years. Because of the scope of a human life we rarely question traditions that have only been around a relatively short time but as this movie attests it can be no bad thing to question traditions although if there is an actual price then let the buyer beware.
I enjoyed this move quite a bit especially the rate at which the plot moves which gets going quick, although I do question the ending and how elements of that has occurred will be easily explained. This is worth more than one viewing, I have seen it a few times, it really does not get old.