There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
Grace (Samara Weaving) and Alex (Mark O’Brien) are getting married. They are happy together, but Alex has yet to tell Grace about his family’s tradition. Alex’s ancestors made their fortune from creating board games and playing cards. They are extremely wealthy, but Alex’s family credits their ancestor’s success to a deal that an ancestor made with the devil. Since then, whenever someone in the family gets married, the family gathers at midnight on the night of the wedding to play a game. The exact game is randomly selected from a deck of cards. It could be checkers, it could be backgammon, it could be hide and seek, or it could be any number of other games, but the games always serve as an initiation for the new member of the family.
Grace has chosen hide and seek, and the rules are pretty simple. She can hide anywhere on the massive estate, she loses if she gets caught, and if she manages to not get caught before sunrise, she wins. It sounds like a silly way to spend her wedding night, but Grace soon discovers that the stakes are much higher than she initially thought. Her new in-laws are trying to find and kill her before sunrise—in a sacrificial ritual for the devil. They have weapons, and they are desperate. It is insane, and her in-laws are clearly crazy, but it is too late to back out now, so Grace must find a way to survive until sunrise.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
The Bed Post (-2pts)
The Violence (+6pts)
The In-Laws (-3pts)
The Question & The Ending (+6pts)
Pro: Grace (+6pts)
I liked the character of Grace quite a bit. This was partially because she was not one of those characters who was made to be dumb in order for the plot to move forward. Was her decision making flawless throughout the entire movie? No, but it was realistic. She acted as anyone would in her situation, and this was refreshing to see in a thriller like this one, because it happens so rarely.
I also thought Samara Weaving did a good job in this role. The premise was silly, and the filmmakers played it comedically whenever possible. Grace’s reaction to the premise—delivered effectively by Samara Weaving—was what helped get me on board with the movie. It was a crazy idea. I knew it, Grace knew it, and the filmmakers knew it, but the movie worked because the filmmakers leaned into the craziness and Samara Weaving sold it. Samara Weaving also did a great job escalating her character’s emotion throughout this story. Her character went on an emotional, crazy journey and Samara Weaving played it all in a relatable and believable way.
Con: The Bed Post (-2pts)
The darn bed post. I am going to keep this vague so that I do not spoil anything. To be very honest, this was a very minor issue, and many audience members may not even notice or care. However, at some point in this movie, there was a character that was handcuffed to a bed post.
The character was desperate to get out, they were pulling down on their arms trying to escape, but they had no success. My issue with this was that the character was an adult, and the bed post was made of wood. At anytime, the character could have stood up, broken the wooden bed post, and escaped. They did not do that, instead they just panicked, yelled, and occasionally flailed. I get that the filmmakers needed the character to be stuck for awhile, but why not just make it a metal bed post? Again, it was a very minor issue, but it was still one of my bigger issues with this movie—which should tell you something.
Pro: The Violence (+6pts)
I have seen some reviews that have hated on this movie for not being scary, but that was clearly not what the filmmakers were going for. It would be like going into a dramatic-Oscar style movie and complaining about it not being funny. The filmmakers aimed for a violent thriller with a silly premise, and they certainly achieved that. I will get into what I liked about the premise later in this review, but the violence was definitely entertaining. Grace was fighting for her life, the in-laws were desperate to kill her and were mostly incompetent with their weapons, and the result was a violent movie.
Grace was as confused as she was terrified, but she was also resilient, and she was willing to do whatever it took to survive. While she was severely outnumbered, her in-laws were not exactly on the same page and a number of them were incompetent in their roles as hunter-seekers. There was a ton of violence throughout this movie, there was a variety of weapons, there was a variety of different locations and scenarios, and no matter how close Grace came to getting caught, there was always more violence right around the corner. The action was entertaining, it was brutal, it was bloody, and it was fun.
Con: The In-Laws (-3pts)
I understand that these characters were supposed to be silly, but being a little more subtle with the silliness would have gone a long way. Some of the in-laws were so over-the-top that they did not quite fit with the more serious characters. It was as if some of the characters were written for a serious thriller, while some of the other characters were written for a parody movie. I enjoyed the somewhat silly tone of this movie, but some of the in-laws were too silly, and I thought they hurt the movie a bit.
Pro: The Question & The Ending (+6pts)
I liked the question that the characters in this movie faced. Grace’s now in-laws believe in a myth passed down from their ancestors. They believed that if they did not catch Grace and perform the ritual, their entire family would be killed. I liked the reluctance that some of the characters had over what they were doing, and I liked their uncertainty over whether or not the myth was true.
The whole thing made the characters face a moral dilemma. Should they have sacrificed an innocent life, to save the lives of their family—including their children? Should they have sacrificed an innocent life on the off-chance that this crazy myth was true? The premise was a silly one, but I liked the moral dilemma that it made the characters face, and I liked that it made the audience wonder about the myth’s validity. I also really liked the ending of the movie, although that is all I will say about the ending, so as not to give anything away.
Con: Stevens (-2pts)
Stevens was a minor character, so my issue with the character was minor as well. As I have said, a few of the in-laws were very silly and over-the-top. Stevens (John Ralston) was the butler, and he was the most over-the-top character in this movie. The guy was unrealistically crazy, and it pulled focus from the more important characters. The guy was basically a cartoon character. He made some catastrophically dumb decisions, and there was a scene where he figured something out as if he were psychic, as there was no way he should have known what he knew. Stevens was a minor character, so this issue had a minimal impact on the movie, but this character either needed to be taken out of the movie or he needed some refining.
Grade: B+ (86pts)
This movie had a unique, yet ridiculous premise. The filmmakers executed it in a way that worked, by not taking the movie too seriously. The premise was silly, some the characters were silly, and the tone of the movie was as well. While some characters were definitely too over-the-top, this was a relatively minor issue and I thought the tone mostly worked. The bed post thing was just lazy writing, but this too was a minor issue.
It would be unfair to call this a horror movie, as it never attempts to be scary, but it was a violent thriller with horror themes. The violence was as brutal as it was entertaining, and there were plenty of unique weapons and locations to help keep the violence fresh. Grace was a refreshingly smart protagonist, as the character was not made to be dumb for the sake of moving the plot forward. The movie started casually with the wedding, it got absurd with the introduction of the game, and it got absolutely insane with how the whole thing played out. Samara Weaving did a great job of playing all of this in a realistic and relatable way, which made it easy to care about the character and what she was going through. I had my issues with the movie, but I enjoyed it for what it was.