Directed by: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett
Starring: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell
Runtime: 94 minutes
We inch closer and closer to Fall and to HALLOWEEN. We just watched Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark a few weeks ago and up this week is another in the horror genre. Originally, I had planned to see Angel Has Fallen. It’s the third in a series starring Gerald Butler. At the last minute I changed my mind. I’ve heard good things about Ready or Not and the word of mouth stemming from it seemed like something we should all look into, so off I went. My guy JeVon was manning the host stand but hadn’t seen this one yet. Still as friendly as ever and does a GREAT JOB! In doing some research after the film, both directors have helped with several horror films so clearly this was their line of work. Would they crush this, or it be a DVD dud?
Onto the film.
We open with the screen panning around the room. We see various board games and trinkets. I noticed a phrase on many of the boards “Le Bail’s Gambit” (Important later) The music immediately worked and set the mood for what was to come, and the title acted as a puzzle scrambling words and coming together. (Neat effect) We are inside an estate owned by Le Domas family. We start with children running, as if playing hide and seek. The film plays with the notion that they are running scared, or are they just having fun. We see a man running, who has been shot by an arrow. The kids are hiding, but at the last second one of them (Daniel) gives away his location as he is killed by people in masks.
30 years later.
We are back at Le Domas estate and we meet Grace (Weaving) who’s about to marry Alex (O’Brien) She’s nervous. She thinks the family hates her and they come from wealth and she does not. Immediately I noticed the chemistry between Weaving and O’Brien. They were great together. There have been many films where there’s just not chemistry between the leads, no tension that needs to be there and you don’t believe the story. That’s not the case here. I truly think this has to do with Grace
(Weaving) Throughout this entire film she engaging and funny, look for this actress to start appearing in more and more films. The banter between the young couple easily allows the viewer to pull for them from the start. The back and forth banter didn’t seem forced and gave us some background information on the family and the estate. We learn that they’ve made their money in a “Gaming Dominion” so the board games in the beginning were starting to take shape.
Spoiler alert. They get married. This is where the fun begins. Alex (O’Brien) gives Grace (Weaving) a heads up. They must play a game at midnight and after she is officially part of the family. She’s given the examples of checkers or chess. We learn that one had to play go fish as well. Hearing this Grace isn’t concerned and says she will play whatever to be accepted by them. Shouldn’t have said that! Grace is taken to a private room only for family members. We see her now father-in-law Tony (Czerny) and her mother-in-law Becky (Macdowell) and Daniel (Brody) Yes, the same Daniel from 30 years before.
We learn in a monologue that their family has been fortunate with their wealth because of a man named Mr. Le Bail. Many generations ago one of the Le Domas members won a box after playing cards. This box is what is now used for “the game”. It’s simple. Put a blank card into the box and Le Bail (spirit) writes what is to be played. You play the game; you are part of the family…. expect if you get the ONE bad card. Hide and Seek. Bad news for Grace, that’s the card she receives. She goes off to hide and we learn that she cannot win this game. If the family doesn’t kill her, they all will be killed at dawn. Stay with me here.
Grace (Weaving) goes to hide under the impression it’s the actual child’s game. She realizes the truth after her husband Alex (O’Brien) warns her and she witnesses an accidental death. We then take a journey with her as she navigates around a house she does not know until dawn.
This film works on many levels and falls flat on one. Any deaths that we see are gruesome (this is a horror movie) and many I winced at. We also have humor sprinkled into the film from time to time. The acting across the board works and each family member we meet has their own quirks that make it, so no one appears flat. My ONE complaint is at times I was bored. The film isn’t long, yet it felt that way. The script seems got lost and then picked back up between set pieces. More substance would have given this 5 stars for me. Regardless go see it, and THAT ENDING!!! #4 stars out of 5 #SHOPLOCAL
Andrew McManus is Operations Manager for Patties & Pints and its parent company Eflow Development.He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-981-9158