Sunday 6 October 2019

Ready or Not by Busick & Murphy

This is a terrific little horror movie with a sly sense of humour, and it's still in cinemas now so I'd urge you to check it out on the big screen.

Ready or Not is essentially a non-supernatural horror story, with a potential supernatural mechanism hovering in the background — but we'll get to that in a minute.

It's the tale of the wealthy Le Domas family whose fortune is founded on a line of board games — we see an amusing array of vintage boxes on display in the first shot. 

Ready or Not has an implicit line of commentary about what shits rich people really are, and it soon turns out that the Le Domas clan have an odd ritual whenever an outsider marries into the family.

The groom — or bride, in this case — is invited to play a game. Exactly which game is determined by drawing cards. And so long as the game isn't hide and seek, everything is fine.

If it is hide and seek, though, the newcomer is in trouble, because the family will arm themselves and hunt down their prey and kill them.

(All of this is established very early on in the movie so it isn't really a spoiler.)

And of course in our movie the bride Grace (an excellent Samara Weaving) draws the hide and seek card. If she survives until dawn she will be spared — not because the family will let her go, but because they will all be destroyed.

This is where the supernatural element comes in. Because the Le Domas family's fortune was founded on the historical beneficence of a certain Mr Le Bail — whom they believe to have been Satan.

Yes, they made a pact with the devil. (Le Bail is a clever name; it took me a while to realise it was an anagram of Belial!)

It doesn't much matter whether there really is a deal with the devil, what matters is that the Le Domas family believes there is. They are convinced that if the outsider isn't sacrificed they will all themselves be wiped out.

So, "The bride must die by dawn!" as Aunt Helene (the fabulous Nicky Guadagni) shrills.

And the hunt is on, with Grace only realising what is at stake when the coked up Emilie (Melanie Scrofano, another great performance) accidentally kills one of the family's — rather creepy — maids.

In fact, the death of the maids becomes a running gag with the reluctant young Le Domases asking if these collateral casualties might serve as the necessary sacrifice, leading to the memorable lines, "Does the help count?" and "Put the maids in the goat pit."

The script is by Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy and besides being thrillingly and cheekily funny it also touches upon profundity: "You'll do pretty much anything if your family says its okay."

With its blend of bloodshed and sardonic wit, Ready or Not calls to mind Heathers and Happy Death Day. It's a quality piece of work and well worth your attention.
(Image credits: the three official posters are from Imp Awards. The red poster, apparently unofficial, is from Pinterest. The Wedding Nightmare poster and Samara with the shotgun are from from IMDB. The bloodspattered face and arrow in the mouth collage is from Mashable India. The Hong Kong poster is from CinemaHK.)

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