by Philip Price
Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett
Starring: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody & Mark O'Brien
Runtime: 1 hour & 35 minutes
It's hard to pin down the exact moment in a movie when it becomes so assured of itself that it's seemingly firing on all cylinders in the exact way the filmmaker(s) intended; some movies are lucky to have such moments at all, but the really special ones are lucky enough to have them early in the runtime - immediately displaying a confidence so unwavering in what it is and what it intends to be that the audience knows what they're in for from the word go.
“Ready or Not,” the new feature from directing duo Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, is one of those movies that you feel instantly knows not only what it wants to be, but exactly how it's going to become that thing. This is apparent not only from the sentiments expressed through the opening credits sequence, but in the initial introductions between each of the characters we promptly get a sense of. From the first scene in which we meet Samara Weaving's Grace we understand who she is as an individual and from the given interaction with her fiancé, Alex (Mark O'Brien), gather how she feels about joining this dynasty of a family as well as the institution of marriage in general; there's a coolness to her that defaults to playing down particularly major events in her life for fear of getting her hopes up too much and/or ultimately being disappointed. The reasons for this become evident the more we learn about Grace's past, but even throughout the remainder of the Le Domas clan the family dynamics are so well defined that the way in which these people operate - even when it comes to attempting to kill the newest member of their family - isn't completely unexpected, but instead each of these characters demonstrate what we assume about them from the precedent they've already set. It is in these rooted characterizations defined from the beginning that also allows for the tension to meld effortlessly with the comedy of the piece; brutal to its core with as much blood as a Tarantino feature, “Ready or Not” fuses that tricky tone of violence and irreverence into a wild, 90-minute experience. This isn't anything you haven't seen before, especially if you keep current with the horror genre, but it is so aware of what it is and so expertly crafted to be the best version of itself that everything about it feels original and raw.