This Ready or Not review will be as spoiler free as possible. If you’ve seen the previews, you know the premise of the movie. If you haven’t seen the preview, or movie, why are you reading this? The premise is simple: there is a rich family that upholds a special tradition whenever someone marries into the family. Of course, as this is a horror movie, that tradition is quite sinister.
Even if you know nothing about the flick when you enter the theater, the first few minutes shows you everything you need to know before flashing thirty years later and telling the story.
In the interest of avoiding spoilers in this review of Ready or Not, I will focus mostly on the themes, performances, and overall atmosphere. Samara Weaving plays Grace, the target of the sinister family tradition, and her character’s evolution is a sight to behold. She starts off as funny and confident, and is clearly a good and genuine person. She is not the manic pixie dream girl, nor is she a hard case. In the first few minutes we spend with her, she feels like a real person. As the movie progresses, that realness never goes away, even as events continue to take a turn for the insane.
Whether the film is exploring what family means to us, or how far we will go for our loved ones, family is a major theme. The Le Domas family believes in the necessity of upholding tradition because if they don’t, bad things will happen to them. The filmmakers make a smart choice by tying the familial themes to the horrific events of the movie. If they had not done so, the character’s motivations would feel weaker.
Review: Ready Or Not Emphasizes Tradition and Comedy
Supplementing the theme of family is the importance of tradition. If tradition isn’t followed, the family will suffer. It is clear that the members of the Le Domas clan are into their traditions, even if they don’t always seem to grasp the gravity of their actions.
While I didn’t find too much of this movie to be actually scary, the premise is horrifying. Also, there are a few moments of terror, but mostly, this film is lighthearted horror. It’s more like Evil Dead 2 or Shaun of the Dead than Nightmare on Elm Street. It may seem weird to hear that this is a lighthearted movie, and maybe that’s not the right word. Still, I think it fits. There’s a fair amount of action, some tension, and a lot of comedic moments. The elderly Aunt Helene is my favorite character after Grace. She is a wicked old lady with some great lines, and has one of the best scenes in the movie.
I really liked this movie and would have no trouble watching it again. It’s clever, and filled with good performances. Also, it has enough twists and turns to remain refreshing. I think people will consider it a classic horror comedy quite soon.
So, there’s my Ready or Not review. Have you seen the movie? Did you like it as much as I did? Did you hate it? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading.
I saw Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark yesterday, and I liked it. Similar to many of my generation, I grew up with these books. They were required reading for playground discussion. We all loved them. We loved the grotesque artwork and the creepy stories. They weren’t terribly terrifying, but they hit that horror sweet spot for tweens that often lacks development. I suppose that area is improving; it’s been a while since I was a kid.
As much as I loved the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books growing up, I forgot about them. Not because I felt that I outgrew them, but rather because life got in the way, which is often the case. So, when I heard they were making a movie out of the book, I was excited to revisit and rekindle those memories.
The film tells some of the stories from the books, and references many others. The only two I really remembered were ‘Harold’ and “The Big Toe,’ and I was pleased to see them on the screen.
The movie, unlike the books, uses a framing device. It starts on Halloween in 1968 and introduces us to the four main characters: Ramon, Stella, Augie, and Chuck. Ramon is a hispanic who is not from the town of Milner Valley, but the other three are friends and have been for a long time. Stella, Auggie, and Chuck have decided to take revenge on the local bully, Tommy, by egging his car and hitting him with a flaming bag of dog poop.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Frames Its Story With Human Horror
Beginning the film in this fashion is a good choice because it introduces the characters and provides the audience with a near instant connection to them. Also, such a framing device is not to be unexpected in an anthology. After all, audiences are suckers for over-arching narrative. For the film, that narrative is about Sarah Bellows. Sarah is a local legend, known for scaring, and possibly killing, children. Of course, there is more to her story than that, and the movie does a fine job of telling it.
I don’t want to get too deep into spoilers, so I will turn my focus to other things. The creature design in this flick are amazing. The filmmakers did a damn fine job following the illustrations and making these things come to life. They are visceral and well-realized, even when they look somewhat plain. I am sure the special effects team employed a fair amount of CGI, but there also seemed to be a fair bit of practical effects, too. The combination works quite well. In horror, audience immersion is key. It’s difficult to scare people if they don’t believe what’s on the screen.
The acting is top-notch as well. When dealing with child actors, there is always the chance that they won’t be able to put in a good performance. Fortunately, that is not the case in Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark. All of the kids put in strong, believable, performances.
PG 13 Horror At Its Finest
For the most part, the film succeeds. It provides some jump scares, and has an overall atmosphere of fear. Additionally, it uses one of my favorite horror tropes: the evil of humans is scarier than any monster. Stephen King often employs this trope, and he is one of my favorites. Maybe that’s why I like it so much.
Why do I love this trope? Simple: creature monsters are imaginary. Sure, they might be bloody and misshapen and look scary, but they aren’t real. Humans, on the other hand, are all too real. As is the damage we inflict on one another. Exploring that aspect of the human condition through monster stories is one of horror’s best tricks. Used here, it enhances every aspect of the film quite nicely.
This is a good scary movie for the younger crowd. It’s not too gory, but it does have some disturbing images. It also has enough creepiness to appeal to older teens as well as adults.
Have you seen Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark? If so, what did you think. Let me know in the comments. And, as always, thanks for reading.
This is my review of Monster Party, a 2018 horror film available on Shudder, where I watched it. When I decided to watch this flick, I didn’t know anything about it other than thieves rob the wrong place.
First, a quick synopsis. Casper’s (Sam Strike) dad owes 10,000 dollars to a human scumbag, and if he doesn’t pay then the scumbag will kill Casper’s dad. This need for quick cash is what motivates the crime. Iris (Virginia Gardner) works for a catering company, and has a job at a very high end house the next day. Lucky break for Casper, right? Dodge (Brandon Micheal Hall) is Iris’s boyfriend, and he agrees that they he and Casper should pretend to be caterers, too, and steal whatever they can. Iris is not happy about this plan.
As you will see, as my Monster Party review continues, she has every right to be unhappy. Iris describes the family as weird and controlling, and that is evident immediately. When we first meet Roxanne Dawson (Robin Tunney) she is obviously stressed out. One of the reasons for her behavior is that the boys aren’t wearing the right clothes. Instead of sending them away and calling for replacements, she sends them upstairs. Why? To borrow clothes from her son, of course. I mean, that’s what people do, right. The daughter, Alexis (Erin Moriarty) shows them to his room.
So, Casper and Dodge go upstairs and meet Elliot, a clearly disturbed individual. He makes some crude jokes about about how hot Iris is, and Dodge takes exception. This motif recurs throughout the film, and it’s always gross.
Speaking of gross, the dad Patrick Dawson (Julian McMahon) appears with bad facial hair which screams scuzzball.
The Guests Arrive to the Monster Party
After all the set up is out of the way, and the audience has a basic sense of who the players are, the guests arrive and shenanigans ensue. I want to say in this review of Monster Party that the filmmakers do a good job of setting up the tension. From the opening shots of the film that show the Dawson’s starting their day to the characters’ behavior, the filmmakers make it clear something is wrong. They add to this by having a young woman, Becca (Sofia Castro) mouth the words “Help me,” at Casper and Dodge as she enters the house.
Everyone in this film is a little weird, so there’s that. Plus, it is a horror movie, and those don’t always have the deepest characters. Still, I would have liked to get to know Casper, Iris, and Dodge a little bit better before the fun began. I am not sure what the movie makers could have done, but I wish they had tried. As it stands, Casper, Iris, and Dodge are mostly cyphers–blank slates. This works in horror films, and it mostly works in this one, but it also leaves me wanting.
So the dinner is on, as is the thieving. Iris stays downstairs to serve drinks and food while Casper and Dodge mess with the security system. They figure out a way to keep the cameras from spotting them when they go for the safe. However, there is a catch. One of them has to manually shut off the cameras every two minutes by pressing a button. Dodge gets that duty as Casper goes for the safe.
Let There Be Blood
At this point we start to get a better sense of who the guests are, and what the monster party is for. It seems these people are recovering addicts, and with help from Milo (Lance Reddick) they are beating their addiction.
In this moment, we don’t know what the addiction is, but we can guess it’s not drugs or alcohol. Roxanne begins the dinner with a speech about how she went running one day and saw a homeless man, and that was it. That’s the story.
Why does this matter? What is the point of this story? I think it is to foreshadow the reveal that these people are murderers who are trying to leave their murderous ways behind them. Which it, does in hindsight. However, when she gives the speech it comes off more as a way to remind us that these people are strange and nothing more. But, it works very well in that regard.
Meanwhile, Elliot has busted Dodge upstairs. Dodge thinks quickly and says he needs the bathroom. Elliot follows him because he’s looking for a bit of the old ultra violence. The house alarm sounds, and the blood bath begins.
Impressions and Thoughts
I am not going to go into much detail about what happens when the killing starts, suffice to say that there is some good gore and blood. If you are a fan of dismemberment, stabbings, and general horror movie violence, you should like this aspect of the film.
The kills themselves are not very inventive, and the camera frames the scenes from strange angles at times. Aside from these quibbles, the action is entertaining and easy to see. Though, sometimes the camera hides the action, or the characters do things which don’t make a ton of sense. But then, that is a common trope in horror movies.
I wouldn’t say this movie is particularly scary, though it does have some tense moments. It also gets a little ridiculous at times, but overall it was enjoyable. The fact that is is just under 90 minutes (credits included) helps keep the pacing tight and the action moving. There aren’t really any surprises or twists in it as it is more of a straightforward affair.
I loved the premise, though, and think there is some real potential for someone to come along and do something great with it. Unfortunately, those people were not the ones who made this movie.
Overall, I’d give it a 7/10 and say there are worse ways to kill an hour and a half. Lastly, if you love horror movies but don’t subscribe to Shudder, you should. It’s a great site with lots of classic films and new ones as well.
Have you seen Monster Party, and did you like my review? What did you think of this film? Let me know in the comments. I always love hearing from my readers.
In tabletop role playing games, the term rules lawyer refers to people who know the rules. Of course, there is more to it than simply knowing the rules. If we called everyone who knew the rules a lawyer, then the term would have no meaning. No, rules lawyers are those who know the rules, and how to use them best to their advantage. In horror movies, we also see some kind of rules lawyers, and I want to talk about the top ones. How am I defining the top horror movie rules lawyers? By focusing on characters in movies that have some kind of inside or essential knowledge for survival.
I spent a fair amount of time on this list trying to think of what makes for top horror movie rules lawyers. As stated, they should have some special knowledge of the situation, and how to solve it. For example, if they are fighting vampires, they should know the rules governing vampires. Also, they should be a little weird or goofy. Finally, they shouldn’t be the main character, but rather the person the main character seeks for assistance.
Beyond just knowing the rules, they should be able to explain them in such a way that makes sense to the characters and audience members. If they can’t express themselves, then they are no good when the villains come hacking and slashing along.
I present this list in no particular order, but rather organized in the order they came to mind.
The First of the Top Horror Movie Rules Lawyers
Chuck from You Might Be the Killer.
She is the character that inspired this list. I was watching You Might Be the Killer, and she came on as the expert in all things slasher and supernatural. I liked this element of the movie the best. The less said about the rest of the flick the better. Anyway, when Alison Hannigan appeared as the know it all, I laughed with glee. Sure, she was basically reprising early seasons Willow from Buffy with the smart and snark, not that I minded.
Why did her appearance delight me? Well, because it’s Alyson Hannigan. Beyond that, though, it made me realize that the majority of horror movie rules lawyers are men. It was refreshing to see a woman fulfill the role of the horror know it all.
Chuck knows her stuff. She works in a comic books store, has seen what seems like every horror movie ever, and has access to eldritch literature. From the moment she walks on screen the audience knows she knows what’s up. Let’s look at the criteria:
She knows the rules, knows the loopholes, and she knows how this story ends and that there will be a sequel.
Chuck is weird. She may not come off as weird, but she is. Her friend tells her people are dying all around him, and it barely fazes her. Also, like the Frogs (discussed below), she works in a comic book store.
She uses her knowledge to help the characters. She can’t help directly because she is so far away, but she gives them they need to succeed.
Chuck clearly has all the qualifications and deserves to be on this list.
The Second Horror Rules Expert on my List
First on the list is Van Helsing. In fact, he might be the earliest example of a character to fill the role of the rules lawyer in a horror movie. Does he fit the criteria? Let’s check.
Knows the situation
Is an academic, a foreigner, and a little weird
Tells the others what’s up with Dracula and how to kill vampires
So, yes, Van Helsing fits the criteria with flying colors. He understands the powers and blood lust of his adversary and lets the others know. Without Van Helsing’s involvement, Dracula wins.
He may seem like an odd choice, but it is clear he belongs on the list of top horror movie rules lawyers.
The Next Movie Rules Experts on the List
This one is a double because where there is one Frog, there is another. The Frog brothers from The Lost Boys.
These two youthful monster hunters seem to be the only ones who know what’s going on in Santa Carla, and they don’t hesitate to let newcomers know it. They are gritty and snarly in the way only 80s screen malcontents could be.
Also, they have one of my favorite lines when discussing what happens when vampires die: ‘No two blood suckers go out the same way. Some yell and scream, some go quietly, some explode, some implode. But, all will try and take you with them.’ It’s hilarious, and true.
How do they fit into the criteria for my list?
The Frogs know their stuff. They tell Sam about garlic, holy water, stakes through the heart, and even give him required reading.
The Frogs are weird and creepy social outcast types. They snarl and work in a comic book shop, and look at their camouflage clothing!
The Frogs help Sam and Michael understand the vampire threat and participate in battling the undead.
The grandpa from this movie almost made this list. He’s idiosyncratic, goofy, and a little weird. He also knows what’s going on in town, and he even kills a vampire. However, he doesn’t share his knowledge with the rest of the characters, nor does he help, so that keeps him off this list.
Enter Evil Ed, Template for Top Horror Movie Rules Lawyers
No discussion of the modern day horror rules lawyer would be complete without mentioning Evil Ed. If Van Helsing is the original horror rules lawyer, Ed brings he archetype to the modern era. As Charlie Brewster’s best friend in Fright Night, Ed fills the role of sidekick. Additionally, he is clearly a weirdo, thanks to his laugh, fashion choices, and hairstyle. Ed is the walking embodiment of 80s creepy geek weirdo.
Some people might argue that Ed doesn’t completely fit the mold because he doens’t know much more about vampires than Charlie does, nor does he believe in the monsters as much as his friend. I concede those points, however; I argue that Ed matches the criteria.
He is a weirdo and a sidekick.
Ed knows about the monsters and how to fight them.
He joins Charlie in his investigation into the vampire next door.
Ed may not be as heavily into the rules of horror as some of the other characters on this list, but he clearly acts as an inspiration for those who followed in his footsteps.
Finally, Randy from Scream
In a decision as predictable as it is necessary, Randy is my last entry on the list of top horror movie rules lawyers. If you had any doubt I was going to mention him, then I don’t know what to say, except watch more horror movies.
If Van Helsing is the first of these types of characters, and Evil Ed brought them into the modern world, then Randy is the culmination. (I know Anthony Hopkins played Van Helsing before Scream came out, but I am talking about characters here, not portrayals.) Randy lays out the ruled clearly and succinctly, and he gets to do so three times. Maybe four, I forget if they somehow got him to add rules to Scream 4, though I don’t think so.
Randy is probably the first character many people thought of when they saw this list, and rightly so. He made a huge impact on pop culture and the horror genre specifically. After Randy’s introduction, the idea that there were rules to survive a horror movie exited the subconscious of fans, and came squealing into the public sphere.
Let’s look at how he fits the criteria:
Geeky Weirdo who works at a movie store
Knows all about slashers and shares his knowledge with the gang
Doesn’t help at first
Tries to help in the second film and dies
So, yes, Randy qualifies, despite his lack of helping others in the first Scream movie. Still, he passes the rest of the criteria with flying colors, so he clearly belongs on this list. I suppose you could argue otherwise, but you would have a hard time persuading me.
Top Paralegals of Horror Movie Rules
I inevitably left some characters off this list either because I didn’t remember them or because I didn’t think they fit.
One character that springs to mind is Columbus from Zombieland. Yes, he offers a lot of rules to the audience, and I can see why that would make him seem like he qualifies. However, his rules aren’t really zombie specific, and even the ones which are, the other characters already know. He doesn’t share new or helpful information, check the back seat notwithstanding.
Plus, this list specifically cites sidekick status, and Columbus is clearly a lead character, so he doesn’t qualify.
When I was thinking about this list I asked some people on Twitter for their input and someone mentioned Tony Todd’s character from the Final Destination films. In my head that sounds right, but I haven’t seen those movies in forever. Therefore, I can’t agree in good faith.
What do you think of the list? Anyone you would argue against? Who would you add? Let me know in the comments.