At first glance, the name Radio Silence may not seem familiar but if you’ve seen the horror anthologies V/H/S or Southbound, you may recognize their work through the use of their distinct blend of nightmare fuel visuals and comedic elements. In the horror/thriller READY OR NOT, Radio Silence, which is comprised of directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett along with executive producer Chad Villella, returns with their second feature film about a bride who marries into an extremely wealthy family and finds herself fighting for her life in a deadly game of Hide and Seek. For the release of the movie, I had the pleasure of speaking with Radio Silence where we discussed everything from Andie MacDowell’s first horror role to the themes presented in the film.
To start things off, what was it about Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy’s script that interested you in wanting to direct READY OR NOT?
Radio Silence: Everything. The humor, the characters, especially the Grace character, but also the fact that all the other characters are so fully formed. It was just something that when we read it were like oh my God, this is not something we normally read. This is unique on every level.
It felt like the kind of movie that we would watch and then immediately watch again. When we read the script for the first time we immediately wanted to read it again. There’s so much happening, it’s really like a dense movie masquerading as this sort of fun thrill ride. There’s a lot happening in it.
Speaking of the Grace, how did you go about bringing Samara Weaving on-board to portray that character?
Radio Silence: Fox Searchlight had worked with her on Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and they loved her and felt like she could carry a movie. They suggested her to us and we met with her and loved her and thought she had everything that we wanted in Grace and more. She embodied that idea of a fucking badass but also being genuine and vulnerable. There’s an honesty to her that you don’t get in most human beings, let alone one who might be in your movie. She just excelled beyond our wildest expectations.
We are a trio so there is this built-in feeling of collaboration, there’s a team effort. The second you meet us you know you are a part of a weird family and she was just so down for that experiment. She felt like she was a natural extension of what we love about the process. What she brought to it was a natural extension of our ideas for the project. It’s this impossible alchemy that you sometimes happen to find with somebody.
Can you also talk a little bit about bringing Andie MacDowell on in her first horror role as the matriarch, Becky De Lomas?
Radio Silence: We had a conversation with her and she was one of the last roles that we cast. She read the script and, I think like all of the people involved, loved it for what it was – it’s a very specific tone and very weird and left of center. Everything that excited us about the project she was just very, very down for since it was something new and outside of the box that she worked in before. I think that she also read a real genuine, emotional, and dramatic quality in Becky that the movie doesn’t work without. She’s ultimately, if you watch the movie from Becky’s point of view, you kind of get what that side of the conflict is. She grounds it in a way that allows the family to not feel arched and she was essential to designing the character in a way that it is portrayed.
Speaking of characters, the mansion in which the film takes place is its own character in a way. Can you elaborate on the process of bringing that aspect of the film to life?
Radio Silence: It was three different locations. We shot at Casa Loma, which is in Downtown Toronto. You’ll see a lot of the hallways and the grand library are from there. Then the Parkwood Estate, which is about an hour outside of Toronto, we used for the interior of the rooms, the fountain, the exteriors, and the game/trophy room. Then the YWCA in Oshawa, Ontario we used for the dining room because it was the one room where we were allowed to actually use blood. Andrew Stearn, who was our production designer, basically built a 40′ foot wall that he would take from location to location to make you feel like the hallways were all the same.
The rich hunting people for sport is one of the bigger themes in the film. What was it about the concept that was fascinating to you guys?
Radio Silence: I think what we loved about this story was that it is ultimately about a young woman who is supposed to be having the best day of her life and it turns into the worst, the ultimate nightmare. And none of the characters that are involved in this nightmare are capable of doing what they need to do. No one’s an expert at what this night has in store for them, everyone is bumbling and fumbling through it and it ends up being this sort of bar fight between this young woman and this cast of characters, this family. The hunting aspect is of course intrinsic to that. It’s also about the absurdity of religion and what people do for religious beliefs. They are hunting her to perform this ritual for their beliefs. There’s certainly a lot happening thematically where we are trying to say a lot about privilege and entitlement and the lengths people go to keep their privilege and their entitlement which is definitely at work in this story. It’s The Most Dangerous Game, the classic tale of “I am rich and I will do what I want.”
Lastly, out of all the games to choose, why was Hide and Seek the most dangerous game out of the bunch?
Radio Silence: It’s the one game you can’t win. There’s no real winner in Hide and Seek cause you can’t stay hidden from your seeker forever. For it to end you either have to be found or you have to be found.