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Burn Movie Review

Sizzlingly Odd
In his debut feature, writer/director Mike Gan has created a small film that, if there's justice, will attain a cult-like status. "Burn" takes place in the course of one evening and entirely within the confines of a rural, out-of-the-way gas station shop.
It's the kind of place that loners might wander into for a hot cup of coffee at 3am. Obviously this is not a big budget film, but Gan squeezes an awful lot of goodness out of it. Maybe we should call it badness.





Ready or Not Movie Review

Hide and Screak

After a parade of disappointing blockbusters this summer, an imperfect but completely capable horror-comedy like "Ready or Not" is a nice surprise, especially as we head into Oscar season. Working with a runtime of 95 minutes, directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett don't waste much time getting things going and keep the film moving at a propulsive clip. The movie fumbles along the way but its quick and manic energy keep you involved almost every step of the way.

Grace (Samara Weaving, "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri") is about to marry Alex Le Domas (Mark O'Brien, "Bad Times at the El Royale"), who is a part of a family that made their fortune in board games. Everyone has gathered at the Le Domas family's palatial estate, but something doesn't seem right almost instantly. Alex walks in on Grace giving herself a pep talk in the mirror and offers her a chance to run without any judgement or hard feelings. There's worry in Alex's eyes, but why? Grace knows his family looks down upon her, seeing her as less-than and not worthy of coming into their family but Alex assures her that's not the case. Even so, she is ready to marry Alex and start her life with him.

After the ceremony, Grace and Alex are not given much time to be alone before they are summoned by his family to take part in a ritual that occurs whenever someone new becomes a Le Domas. Alex's father (Henry Czerny), mother (Andie MacDowell) and older brother (Adam Brody), along with a few other family members sit around a gothic-lit table ready for the festivities to begin. Grace must select a card, which will determine what game the family will play. She draws Hide and Seek and what ensues isn't so much a strange family playing a game together but a hunting party of the Le Domas versus Grace. Grace must hide because her life depends on it.

The bloodthirsty ritual is explained as the movie progresses but feels so breezed over in an exposition dump of information that the reasoning behind "Ready or Not" feels a bit inconsequential. The movie attempts to have a bit more on its mind than your average horror movie, allowing Weaving to relish in Grace's opportunity to fight the rich. The commentary is light and subtle, which works well for a violent R-rated film aiming to provide cheap thrills in the final moments of summer.

"Ready or Not" can feel a bit mechanical at times, hitting the notes you'd expect and trying to surprise you with moments you see coming from afar. What Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett do well is keep the tone and pace in check and never take their movie too seriously. "Ready or Not" is violent, fun, and playful, and likely to please horror fans looking for original content at the movies.

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