Talking Movies

September 29, 2019

Notes on Ready or Not

Shlocky horror-comedy Ready or Not was the film of the week much earlier today on Sunday Breakfast with Patrick Doyle.

It is semi-remarkable that this is the work of directing duo Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who made the found footage Rosemary’s Baby riff Devil’s Due that (apparently unwittingly) used the Euro sign as a Satanic symbol. Admittedly Ready or Not boasts a far better script, by Guy Busick (Urge) and (no, not that) Ryan Murphy, but it also looks gorgeous. Andrew M Stearn’s production design for the De Lomas mansion and grounds are lit by Brett Jutkiewicz to bring out the warmth of the wood panelling and lamps and to cast us into a more Fincheresque colour scheme outdoors. Meanwhile in support John Ralston as major-domo Stevens gamely plays a kitchen sequence of Hitchcockian delight and a truly delirious conceit that would do Scream proud; featuring the most improbable and incredibly inopportune rocking along to Tchaikovksy’s 1812 Overture imaginable.

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September 24, 2019

Ready or Not

Samara Weaving follows up McG’s The Babysitter with a considerably more tonally consistent horror-comedy from the directors of Devil’s Due.

Grace (Weaving) is getting married to Alex (Mark O’Brien). Alex is a scion of the fabulously wealthy Le Domas family, headed by Tony (Henry Czerny) and Becky (Andie MacDowell). Grace is unsure of her welcome to this dynasty. Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni) seems to silently hate her guts. Alex’s brother Daniel (Adam Brody) is creepily attentive, his wife Charity (Elyse Levesque) contemptuous; her default setting. Alex’s drug-addled sister Emilie (Melanie Scrofano) and her husband Fitch (Kristian Bruun) only finally arrive for the afters. But Grace feels wildly unwelcome when she pulls the wrong card from a vintage box for the wedding night ritual family game. Instead of cribbage or old maid she gets hide and seek. And when the family fortune derives from a pact to literally make devilishly good board games, hide and seek will be a lethal affair…

It is semi-remarkable that this is the work of directing duo Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who made the found footage Rosemary’s Baby riff Devil’s Due that (apparently unwittingly) used the Euro sign as a Satanic symbol. Admittedly Ready or Not boasts a far better script, by Guy Busick (Urge) and (no, not that) Ryan Murphy, but it also looks gorgeous. Andrew M Stearn’s production design for the De Lomas mansion and grounds are lit by Brett Jutkiewicz to bring out the warmth of the wood panelling and lamps and to cast us into a more Fincheresque colour scheme outdoors. Meanwhile in support John Ralston as major-domo Stevens gamely plays a kitchen sequence of Hitchcockian delight and a truly delirious conceit that would do Scream proud; featuring the most improbable and incredibly inopportune rocking along to Tchaikovksy’s 1812 Overture imaginable.

4/5

January 15, 2014

Devil’s Due

Horror classic Rosemary’s Baby gets the found footage treatment in Devil’s Due as newlyweds discover something wrong with their pregnancy…

devils-due-poster

The film opens in faux-sinister fashion as a hand-held camera stalks around a house before climbing up the drainpipe to the bedroom of Samantha (Go On’s Allison Miller). The stalker, however, is her fiancé Zach (Friday Night Light’s Zach Gilford). As Samantha grew up in foster homes, after being cut out of her pregnant mother after a fatal car accident, he is determined to make up for the lack of any recordings of her childhood by documenting simply everything of their married life. On honeymoon in the Dominican Republic they are taken to the world’s best-hidden night-club by a helpful taxi-driver (Roger Payano). But something very odd happens after they pass out from drink… Samantha finds herself pregnant, despite being on the pill, and soon her cheerful OBGYN Dr Ludka (Donna Duplantier) is ominously replaced by Dr Dylan (Robert Aberdeen)…

Devil’s Due has some very nice moments. Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett are restrained in introducing the horror. Samantha punches out the windows of a car with super-strength after it almost runs her over in a car-park, but it could be adrenaline. At a pre-natal class she remembers her honeymoon to relax her baby, and all the other mothers writhe in pain as if the child in their womb had just leaped for despair, but it could just be coincidence not the Anti-Christ. And, yes, she wolfs down raw meat in a supermarket, but maybe she renounced her vegetarianism because she had a craving… But then great suspense is wrung from her niece discovering her carving a symbol on the floor and screaming with demonically elongated jaw. After that screenwriter Lindsay Devlin loses her way in the subtlety stakes.

Father Thomas (Sam Anderson, aka Bernard from LOST) has a stroke when Samantha is present at a Church sacrament, some characters wander in almost from another film solely to be killed off in a show-off shot, and Zach discovers the Satanic plot by finally watching the first hours of 8 months’ worth of his own footage. That found footage is then stolen by Satanists, so… how were we looking at it? Who found all of Zach’s footage, and added in security camera feeds, and all the material from the handily bugged McCall home? Did the Satanists compile an elaborate file?? And handily place an off-kilter camera under a bed to perfectly frame a touching moment! It also cannot be ignored that the Satanic symbol for bringing forth the Anti-Christ is the Euro… Make of that what you will: is it an unintentional satiric commentary on American insularity or a pointed shout out for conspiracy theorists?

Devil’s Due is an entertaining low-budget horror, if you’re willing to overlook the farcical flaws in its found footage.

3/5

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