M.L. Miller here! Welcome horror fans to my Annual countdown of the Best of the Best in Horror! Running every day through October, this list will culminate with the best horror film of the year announced on October 31st. Some of these films can be found in theaters—others have unfortunately only seen the light of day On Demand, DVD, BluRay, or digital download. I’ve tried to indicate in the reviews how you can watch and enjoy these films yourselves. I’ll also provide a “Worth Noting” secondary film suggestion in a separate post. These are films that stood out or just missed being on the list by a skosh—a little extra for those who can’t get enough horror.
How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st 2018 and September 30, 2019 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number, 31. This countdown is not for the elitists or festival goers, so if the film hasn’t been released to the masses, it won’t be on the list. Also anything released this October will most likely be on next year’s list—so sorry, no films like DOCTOR SLEEP or ZOMBIELAND 2 just yet.
I hope you’ll join me daily and don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
#15 READY OR NOT
READY OR NOT was a raucous riot of a film from beginning to end. It also features one of my favorite new actresses in Samara Weaving and hopefully shines a well deserved spotlight her way. I had a blast with this rowdy and loud horror comedy and I think many of you will too! Released on August 21, 2019, here’s my review of READY OR NOT! Available On Demand, digital download, and BluRay/DVD!
READY OR NOT (2019)
aka FAMILY RITUAL, WEDDING NIGHTMARE
Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
Written by Guy Busick, Ryan Murphy
Starring Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell, Melanie Scrofano, Kristian Bruun, Nicky Guadagni, Elyse Levesque, John Ralston, Liam MacDonald, Ethan Tavares, Hanneke Talbot, Celine Tsai, Daniela Barbosa, Chase Churchill, Etienne Kellici, Andrew Anthony, Elana Dunkelman, Kate Ziegler, Alan Richardson, Nat Faxon
READY OR NOT is a blood-soaked, rompy endurance test from beginning to end with a bright-eyed star and a fast-paced story that will surely entertain.
Grace (Samara Weaving) loves Alex (Mark O’Brien) and they plan on getting married at Alex’s massive family estate. Alex’s family is old rich—founders of the Le Domas gaming empire (think Parker Brothers and you’re on the right track). But in order to enter the family, the new bride must pass a ritual. Drawing a “Hide & Seek” card, Grace believes she is in for a goofy game with her in-laws. But the stakes raise exponentially when she finds out that she must hide until dawn or be killed by those she thought were accepting her into the family. The hunt is on and Grace must use her wits and gumption to survive the night.
READY OF NOT exemplifies fun horror cinema. It’s got a likable lead and brisk pacing. The comedy is spot on and the gore factor is set on “blow your balls off.” It’s a film that rarely takes a moment to relax, breezing through the opening sequence and setting things up stuff, then tossing you headfirst into the carnage. This fast pace is sure to please those who like a light-hearted nightmare in their cinema tastes and the gore is bound to please fans of the sopping wet gore a la EVIL DEAD 2. It’s a film that backs up its briskness with good old-fashioned grossness and jump scares. READY OR NOT is not a particularly deep film. Instead it feels much more like a roller coaster ride that lasts about an hour and a half, never spending too much time to let you catch your breath.
Most of the reason the scares and thrills land so soundly is because of the lead, Margot Ro—I mean, Samara Weaving. I’m sure comparisons between Weaving and Robbie are getting old for Weaving, but the advertising sure is pushing for the audience to match the two together as two Margot Robbie trailers played just before READY OR NOT in my theater prior to the film. While there is a similarity, I find Weaving much more likable and girl next door-esque than her lookalike. Weaving has a relativity that is unmistakable with her gigantic eyes and slightly upturned nose. Weaving is as enchanting in her wedding gown as she is blood-soaked and brandishing a shotgun. She’s as convincing in her few quiet moments showing love for her hubbie to be as she is screaming and racing for her life across the mansion grounds. Having appeared in MAYHEM, THE BABYSITTER, and now READY OR NOT, I can only hope Weaving continues to make horror her genre of choice. She is talented as hell and I can see her making a break for other roles, but she would definitely class up the horror genre if she sticks around.
READY OR NOT is not a perfect film, but its pace rarely gives one time to think about its faults as it assaults you with another darkly humorous joke, gunshots, or a gallon of blood every two or three seconds. But as small as they are, the faults are there. I think the script could have been punched up a bit. Specifically, I think the film relies on any given character to saw “Fuck!” way too many times. Rob Zombie is guilty of this, where his characters simply swear instead of say any dialog worth remembering. Pretty much every character in READY OR NOT mutters or shouts the F-word at some point in the movie. More often than not, it’s used as a punchline and the law of diminishing returns kicks in after everyone has taken their turn with the phrase. For me, I think swears can have as much personality as any other mutterance, with each character swearing in their own unique way. Here, the F-word reigns supreme and for me it got old.
But aside from a script in need of punching up a bit, I found READY OR NOT to be one of the most entertaining mainstream films of the summer. It never lets up with the humor (which lands soundly most of the time) and its lead actress is sure to be headed for super-stardom. The group formerly known as Radio Silence were behind this one. They’ve since chosen to use their real names which I totally understand. But I hope this team stays together as they have produced quite a rollercoaster in READY OR NOT and I hope there’s much more to come from all involved.
THE COUNTDOWN SO FAR…
#15 – READY OR NOT
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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