Ready or Not (2019)
Rated R for a lot of violence towards women coupled with language that would make a sailor blush. I know I should be focusing on the violence-towards-women element of the R rating, but the movie really goes out of its way to include as many F-bombs as it can fit in an hour-and-a-half. Like, they aren't even hiding how much it likes that word. Similarly, with a lot of horror violence, it has its share in gore. There is also violence towards children. R.
DIRECTORS: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
I kind of need to shake a leg writing this one. I'm running out of time. (It's almost as if my job requires a lot of my attention and that it would be irresponsible to write a movie blog when I have a to-do list a mile long. I love that I have HBO Max to watch stuff like this. It was a low-key priority seeing this one and it eventually slipped under my radar. That being said, I can't help but see comparisons to two other films and I'm sure I'm not alone in seeing these comparisons.
Did anyone else feel like this was a blend of Get Out and Knives Out? (I know that both movies end in the word Out, but I swear that I'm pretty sure that one isn't a sequel of the other.) I read an article that stated that the filmmakers were aware of the thematic tone between Ready or Not and Get Out. After all, I'm glad when movies point out that rich white people are the real villains in our society. With the one case, it involves the victimization of women. I can already see the pretend reader of this blog commenting on how it has nothing to do with gender because the males are equally hunted in this movie. But the visual of a woman in her bloodied and abused wedding gown fleeing from white people can't be ignored. The Knives Out thing kind of just feels like the quirky family that can't get their act together and comes across as generally unlikable. And maybe there's a cinematographer thing going on, but these movies just absolutely look alike and I can't quite shake that feeling that there is some kind of art design attachment to both.
But I kind of dig what's going on in the movie. Okay, there was a time in the movie that I was about to riot. What the movie was saying about Alex to begin with bothered me. I mean, they were secretly on my team the entire time, so I can't fault them for the misdirect. But it made it seem like Alex was "the good one." We had a little bit of this in Vampires vs. the Bronx, the concept of the good white person. But the movie really was selling the idea that Alex was still a good person for doing all of this. The movie rests on the central conceit of deception. Alex, to get married to Grace, had to lie to her about a tradition that the family partakes in. Alex's motivation for not telling Grace that there is a small chance that she would be hunted is because he states that she would have left him if they didn't get married. I rolled my eyes pretty hard at this concept. The movie needed to have Grace surprised by this horrifying tradition. That's completely necessary to the whole "Most Dangerous Game" bit that orchestrates everything that happens from the beginning of the movie. But trying to get Alex to be one of the good guys is weird. She still loves him, even after he confesses the family's dark history.
But she really shouldn't. Part of the whole marriage thing is the understanding that the spouse is another part of you. It's why we try to avoid lying to our significant others. He clearly thinks very little of her if he isn't willing to share this very important element of his backstory. Similarly, if Grace agreed to do this, which she absolutely shouldn't agree to do, she could have at least prepared for the potential bloodbath that would ensue. She wouldn't be leaving her wedding with a dead groom and dead in-laws. She wouldn't be leaving with a hole in her hand and multiple lacerations. She has the right to all of these things, but Alex just withholds that stuff. What was his endgame? She would have to know about the family tradition in case anyone else in his family got married, right? Grace would potentially have to be on the other end of the hunt given the proper circumstances. What then? What if she just objected to hunting people, like she should? I mean, it is absolutely looney tunes that the family that has married into this gaming family are not only on board the murder of a stranger, but completely excited about it. What is the assumption that this would play out that way across time?
The same rules kind of apply to Daniel. I feel like Daniel only got all of this fun character switching stuff because he was played by Adam Brody, who is just too handsome to be full on evil. There's a moment in the woods where I was jazzed to see that he was just as evil as everyone else in the family, but he just had to warm up to it. When he frees Grace, it kind of feels like a cop out. I know that he explains away some of his choices when he frees her, but why go through all that hullabaloo if you were just going to help her escape to begin with? Also, I don't know if it makes him a good person. At least Alex kind of has a character turn that is based on something. Yeah, it's icky and gross, but it matches with the message of the whole piece.
Is the 1812 Overture an unfired Chekhov's gun? It was a bizarre choice that the head servant of the house kept going back to the 1812 Overture as his defining character beat. It's a gag that has happened in movies time-and-again to the point where it is almost a cliche. This character keeps whistling and singing that song, but we never get the "boom joke". It kind of made me hate that character. If they were intentionally trying to break the tradition of the boom joke, I wish that they would just vocalize the fact that the boom joke wasn't happening so it didn't feel like a lost opportunity.
I don't know which ending I like better. The movie provides this binary option: the Devil is real or he isn't. I adore how they made the devil real. The family members just blowing up is absolutely satisfying. It's the best way to have them die and I simply love it. I don't know why Grace doesn't die. After all, she is married to Alex. But I want to look at the other option. There's also something very satisfying about nothing happening to them. The directors really toyed around with that notion. After all, it is a little silly to watch these sophisticates running around with archaic weaponry to kill a girl before sunrise all for the devil. (The "Hail Satan" gave the movie just the right camp it needed for a horror movie.) But watching them all feel foolish to discover that they had killed so many people for no reason was almost better than watching them explode. After all, them actually dying makes them infinitesimally sympathetic. Killing to stay alive doesn't make you a super bad guy; it just makes you a bad guy. I want to absolutely hate them when they point out the evil religious fanaticism running rampant through the story. But think about if the movie just ended with them all feeling incredibly sheepish. Yeah, I would have gone the same direction as the filmmakers did, with everyone exploding too. But part of me would have just died to see everything being just fine and that all those people died for nothing. It would have been the ultimate Boomer criticism.
But for all my critiques, the movie is really fun. I know that "The Most Dangerous Game" has been repeated time and again. But there's something genuinely entertaining about how over the top the movie gets. It's not like the family is good at killing folks. Honestly, why would they be amazing at it? It's not like they kill people all the time. There's just this assumption that they would be great at it. The running gag of the help dying horrible deaths is fantastic. The movie just works. It gave me a good ending in terms of Alex. While I might have considered the alternate ending, the exploding family is super fun. It's not really all that scary so much as genuinely suspenseful.
Also, OnStar is the worst.
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Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.