Sunday, August 25, 2019

READY OR NOT... for Date Day!

I somehow managed to pry Professor O'Evil off his iPad for a Date Day with the promise of a World Burrito bowl, which just happened to be next to a theater. After incessant whining (I won’t mention who did the whining), we went to see Ready Or Not. Is it me or did this movie come out of no where? There was no advance buzz, no ostentatious festival debut, and film just dropped into theaters with little fanfare.

Ready Or Not puts the eccentric rich on notice about bizarre family traditions. We all know they live privileged lives in fancy mansions and apparently can get away with murder. In the film, a new bride on her wedding night must defend herself in a brutal game of hide and seek where the stakes are life or death – literally. Professor O'Evil asked why the dumbwaiter is the first place everyone hides in fancy mansion movies. I assume it’s because screenwriters like for actors to say “dumbwaiter” since most actors were once waiters in L.A.

The cast here is perfect and embodies both dimwitted buffoonery and vile savagery very well. This helps bobble the tone from horror to comedy seamlessly. And, yes, it is bloody awful at times and earns its R rating. The tone really reminded me a lot of the movie CLUE (1985) with its confined set and whimsy but with the clear horror edge of a film like You're Next (2011). Professor O'Evil said it reminded him of that movie with the clowns or that other movie with the girl and the gun. Needless to say he doesn’t watch a lot of horror movies but I really like that he tries to relate to my weirdness. I should make the same effort and like listen to… a jazz?

The ensemble here works very well together as a dysfunctional family and they all have a familiar, lived-in feeling that’s often difficult to achieve in ensembles. First, I should mention that Adam Brody is in this film, he is a delightful, and he is always my favorite. BUT it’s Samara Weaving, as the bride, who steals the show instantly becoming an iconic final girl. If you are not familiar with her, she was in a fun Netflix horror comedy called The Babysitter (2017), where she played the nanny from hell. Samara knows how to throw down fear, agony and distress with these guttural howls that literally made my bones ache. Professor O'Evil said she reminded him of less persnickety Nicole Kidman. They are both Australian and blond so I can see the resemblance but Samara has no air of aristocracy, seems approachable, and doesn't leave a trail of frost behind her. I can see her getting an Oscar in the next 3-5 years but then we’ll lose her to those damn prestige films.

Ready Or Not was directed with a good amount of polish by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillettt, the duo behind segments in both Southbound (2015) and V/H/S (2012). For a low-budget $6 million film, the money is clearly all on the screen with the lavish well-appointed finery, although that one hall started to look quite familiar. The] team knows how to deliver comedic beats and manages to keep the suspense tight with a quickly moving pace. Even the emotional scenes between family members are kept brief and to the point. This was a ride and they knew not to interrupt the momentum. The surprising and hilarious finale was such a satisfying end. Many times screenwriters come up with a great premise but struggle to wrap things up. This is not the case and we loved the full tilt. 

Horror comedies are a tough sell and they don't seem to satisfy neither horror hounds nor comedy fans. Ready Or Not is absurd fun, quite gory, and the perfect date movie. It almost doubled its budget at the box office this opening weekend and currently holds an 87% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes so audiences and strangely critics are enjoying this bizarre blend. I personally love the horror comedy subgenre and much like that World Burrito bowl Professor O'Evil is enjoying, it's a complex mishmash of the best parts of the genre, topped with a fair amount of flair.


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