The Movie Waffler New to DVD - READY OR NOT | The Movie Waffler


ready or not review
A young bride is hunted by her in-laws on her wedding night.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett

Starring: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O'Brien, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell

ready or not dvd

Richard Connell's 1924 short story 'The Most Dangerous Game', in which a rich eccentric hunts human prey on his remote island, has proved hugely influential on horror and action cinema. It was directly adapted as the great 1932 thriller The Most Dangerous Game, still the best screen version to date, but its premise has inspired everything from David A Prior's 1987 trash classic Deadly Prey to this year's The Hunt, which currently finds itself in limbo having been pulled from release amid concerns that it may inspire mass shootings. Rich elites hunting plebs for sport has become a genre in itself.

Australian actress Samara Weaving has become something of a genre in herself too. As seen in Mayhem, The Babysitter and now Ready or Not, a Samara Weaving movie involves the actress playing a wise-cracking blonde who finds herself in a fight for survival, usually caked in blood by the movie's conclusion.

ready or not review

Both sub-genres collide in Ready or Not, in which Weaving plays Grace, who has just married wealthy toff Alex Le Domas (Mark O'Brien), and finds herself spending her wedding night in the well polished surrounds of the expansive Le Domas estate. As explained by patriarch Tony (Henry Czerny), the Le Domas fortune was amassed through the development of a gaming empire (that's board games rather than video games - ask your grandparents, or your hipster cousins). As a tradition, whenever someone marries into the Le Domas family, they must pull a card from a box and play whichever game is suggested by the card. Grace pulls Hide & Seek, which seems innocent enough, but this is no ordinary game - the Le Domas's believe that if they don't find and kill Grace before dawn they will fall victim to a fatal family curse that has claimed countless lives in the past.

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Ready or Not gives us a curious twist on The Most Dangerous Game in that in this case the elites are hunting their prey not for sport but for their own survival (though we've seen this idea handled more skillfully in the recent Canadian thriller Game of Death). It's clear early on that the Le Domas's are out of their depth, far from the trained killers we see in most TMDG knock-offs. Initially this creates some amusing moments, as they struggle with their weapons and realise Grace isn't going to be the easy victim they assumed she might. Yet the trouble with this idea is that the Le Domas's are so incompetent that we never feel like Grace is ever in any real danger.

ready or not review

This sucks the tension out of the scenario, as we watch Grace deal with her predicament far too easily. It doesn't help that Grace is subjected to a host of physical suffering, yet seems impervious to pain beyond some initial screams. The key rule in any horror movie that revolves around a stalk and slash scenario is that the person doing the stalking and slashing has to be more imposing than their intended victim, but Ready or Not has this idea ass-backwards. You can commend it for reversing genre tropes if you will, but tropes become tropes for a reason, because they work.

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Another clever idea within Ready or Not is the idea of having its TMDG scenario play out mostly within a single confined indoor location (in this manner it resembles a reversal of the setup of Georges Franju's Spotlight on a Murderer), but directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett never quite make the most of their setting. For a start they fail to establish the geography of the house, which means we rarely know where Grace is in relation to her attackers, which kills the potential for 'don't go around that corner' suspense. Secondly, the movie never utilises its unique environment, save for one amusing moment involving death by dumb waiter.

ready or not review

If Samara Weaving is a genre to herself, Ready or Not is the weakest of the three horror movies she's thus far headlined, but as usual she's the best thing about the movie. Weaving has everything it takes to be a movie star - charisma, comic timing, looks - and surely now it's time for her to break free of her stalk and slash shackles and stretch her talents.

Ready or Not comes to UK DVD February 10th.

2019 movie reviews