Film Review: Ready or Not

With Ready or Not, directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett may just have made this year’s most entertaining horror movie. 

On her wedding day, Grace is nervous about joining her new husband’s wealthy family. They invite her to play a game in an initiation ceremony, which turns lethal…

Ready or Not boasts an outlandish premise, but one that is played in exactly the right key. Written by Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy, the film is directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett. Within the world that Ready or Not creates, the game seems plausible despite its craziness. 

The narrative unfolds fairly quickly, although Busick and Murphy are careful to keep viewers guessing. Characters are introduced succinctly, and given enough depth for the narrative. The motivations of all are not not clear cut, which adds to the intrigue. Situated with Grace, audience members will wonder if she has any allies in the cat-and-mouse chase. The filmmakers dangle the prospect of escape in creative ways. 

Ready or Not mixes a horror thriller with a comedy. The dark aspects functions to drive plot, although any supernatural activity is wisely left up in the air. The are real nervy moments as the film continues,  as well as sufficient gore. The film is frequently funny, which adds immensely to the fun. Even the gore is often played for laughs. 

The film is exceptionally well paced. Running at 95 minutes, Ready or Not never outstays its welcome. Tension is interspersed with humour. These breaks work well to reset for the next build up; Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett realise it would be very difficult to maintain such a tense atmosphere throughout. 

Samara Weaving delivers a winning performance as Grace. Weaving is both charismatic and convincing as the protagonist. Among the assemble cast, Andie MacDowell and Adam Brody are on good form. Kristian Bruun also brings the laughs. 

Ready or Not is a lot of fun. The perfect movie for those who like their horror gory and very humorous. 

Previews: Last Christmas Trailer, Ready or Not, More!

Lots of film-related goodness in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the brand new Last Christmas trailer, Ready or Not, and the BFI Musicals season…

Last Christmas Trailer

The latest Last Christmas trailer was released today. The romantic comedy is about a young woman who works as an elf, and a stranger who works into her life. The film stars Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, and Emma Thompson (who co-writes and produces). Last Christmas is directed by Paul Feig, coming of the success of last year’s brilliant A Simple Favour. Last Christmas hits UK cinemas on 15h November 2019.

Ready or Not Trailer

Ready or Not has been receiving a great response in the US, and UK audiences only have to wait a few more weeks to see it. The film is about a young bride who must take part in her new husband’s eccentric tradition. The film stars Samara Weaving, Mark O’Brien, Adam Brody, and Andie MacDowell. Ready or Not lands on UK screens on 27th September 2019.

BFI Musicals Season

The BFI is launching a season of musicals at BFI Southbank and across the UK later this year. The season will celebrate the work of Gene Kelly, Barbra Streisand, Doris Day, and other icons of the genre. Highlights include UK-wide re-releases of Singin’ in the Rain, Tommy, and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. The BFI Musicals season runs from October 2019 – January 2020. Full details can be found here.

Isabelle Trailer

Isabelle is a new thriller with influences from Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist. The film is about an expecting young couple who move to a new home, and their unusual neighbour. Isabelle stars Adam Brody and Amanda Crew. The film will be released on digital platforms in the UK on 30th September 2019.

Film Review: Magic Mike XXL

Magic Mike XXL

Sequel Magic Mike XXL offers more of the same for fans of the first film. The narrative is slight, but the film delivers dances galore…

Three years after he quit stripping, Mike’s furniture business is busy. When his old troop reconnects with him, Mike is persuaded to hit the road for one more trip down to South Carolina…

Gregory Jacobs takes over directing duty from Steven Soderbergh for this sequel to 2012’s Magic Mike. This time, the format is a road trip, and the reason is a final hurrah for Mike and his fellow stripper veterans. The failing of the first film is that it did not get the tone right. Magic Mike flitted between tongue-in-cheek comedy and serious romance, not settling easy in either category. To some extent, Magic Mike XXL also has problems with tone. Jacobs’ film attempts to blend campy routines with more contemplative conversation. The serious chatter does feel a bit hollow, but it does not drag the tone down too significantly.

In addition to the flimsiest of narratives, another issue with Magic Mike XXL is the pacing. The road trip format is plodding, with a lack of real direction. The film could easily have been trimmed down by fifteen minutes, with no impact on the narrative. It is a shame that the film did not concentrate on comedy rather than the reflections of the protagonist. Magic Mike XXL works best when it is trying to make viewers laugh.

Magic Mike XXL manages he feat of appearing much raunchier than its predecessor despite exhibiting less nudity. The routines vary for silly to sizzling, with plenty of unusual situations giving a flimsy excuse for gyrating. Those expecting copious amounts of male nudity might be disappointed at having to wait, although the routines should make up for it.

Channing Tatum delivers the dancing well, although there is not much to his character. Matt Bomer and others are hindered by poor dialogue at times. Actresses in small roles seem to be having more fun, with Andie MacDowell and Jada Pinkett Smith hamming it up delightfully as strong female characters.

Ultimately, Magic Mike XXL is an excuse to watch muscular men strip and dance. Fans of the original will no doubt lap it up.