Ready or Not (2019) <><><>



Ready or Not is the first feature film from both the writing team and the directing team. It is not a groundbreaking horror film. It is a mixture of body horror and slasher but doesn't fully commit to either. There is some devil worship, goat sacrificing, and spirit inhabited objects. It even has some comedic elements but isn't a Shaun of the Dead or Tucker and Dale vs Evil. It seems like a horror fan's ill-fitting combinations of every movie type they have ever seen.


The premise of the movie is that the new bride, Grace (Samara Weaving), has to play hide and seek on her wedding night to join the family. The family must capture her and sacrifice her to continue the family's good fortune or face certain death. Her husband, Alex (Mark O'Brien), and his brother, Daniel (Adam Brody), cautiously joke about how silly the game is. Neither feels convinced of their impending death if they don't kill Grace. Daniel seems indifferent to the game while Alex at first appears to be opposed to it.


Both Alex and Daniel go through a journey in this movie of taking part in the game and trying to avoid it. They waffle so much that it is hard to figure out what their true feelings are. The times when they turn from good to bad feel a bit jarring as it sometimes makes little sense why they had a change of heart. All the while Grace is constantly fighting for her life as her wedding dress turns from brilliant virgin white to a brownish red mess of dried blood and dirt.


It is easy to root for Grace; Samara's acting is fantastic. The horror and pain on her face are very real. She is by far the best actor in the movie. She grew up in foster care and is desperately seeking a family. It is quickly apparent that she can handle everything thrown at her by herself. She had only been dating Alex for eighteen months before they got married. Is this her desperation to finally have a family, or is it Alex's attempt to take over as the patriarch of the family form his father? That is left up to you to decide at the end of the movie.


I am slowly getting into more horror films and learning the styles that I do not like. Body horror is not for me and this movie re-inforced that. While many of the gruesome lingering camera shots are only a few extra seconds long, I found myself looking away. For someone more used to body horror these scenes may seem tame. The slasher elements did not get me to jump from my seat once; I am very easy to get to leap up normally. I could see what was coming next, partially due to seeing the trailer, but also because the movie was predictable. I laughed multiple times during the movie, but the comedic elements came in waves with long gaps between crests. I would have preferred a more even spread of the jokes. The last line is great and had the entire theater laughing.


The movie felt like an honest freshman effort. At times I felt like the writers forgot something they should have included earlier and just shoved it in when they thought of it. We have been spoiled by Jordan Peele's two genres defying epic horror films. Unlike Get Out and Us, there is little social commentary, other than rich people suck, in Ready or Not. It is an average movie that isn't a direct reflection of any point in time. Maybe it was an effort to be timeless, or maybe that was a happy accident. This movie will be around whenever you feel like watching it. It will not feel out of place in five or ten years, so feel free to watch it when you feel like it.



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©2019 by Sean Whitehurst