7 / 10
Samara Weaving … Grace
Directed by Radio Silence
Ready or Not review:
The “hunting humans for spot” movie is a tradition. It has rules and goes back decades, which is why Ready or Not on the surface may look like yet another entry in this type of story. Below that though is a heart that keeps the film moving, always setting you up for the expected but seldom acting on that tropey impulse. Directed by the Radio Silence collective of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, Ready or Not delivers the type of horror-comedy that is so difficult to manage but is made to look so, so easy.
The film tells the story of Grace (Samara Weaving), whose wedding day has arrived under peculiar circumstances. As she meets her new in-laws and their rich people quirks, she quickly realizes something sinister is at play. When a “family tradition” turns into a deadly game of hide & seek is when the movie really kicks off, throwing any sense of stability out the window and keeping us on our toes for the duration. Bodies begin to drop in clever and devious ways, and it’s never clear what’s going to be around the next corner.
Weaving leads the cast with a dorky and down charm that can’t be denied, the movie even bookends itself with her snort laughs as a reminder. What makes her performance work is that she embodies what we love about final girls in horror movies but maintains grounded personality that feels real. She never gives up, she’s resourceful, and always has a quick comeback even if it’s just a string of hilarious profanities. On the other side of Weaving is a whole host of character actors all served on a plate of ham. Henry Czerny plays Grace’s new father-in-law, along with Nicky Guadagni as Aunt Helene, the pair can best be described as Extra with a capital E. Other notable highlights include Melanie Scrofano as the hilarious and coked-out Emilie and Kristian Bruun as her husband, the ever modern millennial Fitch.
What makes Ready or Not stand apart as a unique feature in the modern landscape is its horror and comedic sensibilities. The scary parts are scary, the funny parts are funny, and there’s no confusion with the audience about when they should laugh or be startled, that’s Class A filmmaking. Ready or Not’s laughs stem from a sense of hopelessness infused in its villains, a nice change of pace from movies like The Purge where regular folk turn into stone-cold killers on a whim. It has a Coen-like mentality where the dumbest people always mess up and the smartest ones in the room can’t catch a break because of it. Naturally the humor also stems from its gorier bits, some of which are not funny, but most of them should get a smile out of an on-board audience.
There is something about the movie that pushes it above what one might expect from this sub-genre, it has a unique commentary. While the typical “rich people bad” is expected, and exploited here, there’s a generational divide that is its beating heart. While Czerny’s Tony and Guadagni’s Aunt Helene spout off about the family tradition, the younger generation questions it all out loud. The middle members of the family find themselves in a Xillennial haze, unsure what exactly they should be doing but knowing that it means something to the pillars of the family. Adam Brody’s ever drunk Daniel, Grace’s new brother-in-law, is one of the best examples here. This might sound like typical family drama of the era, but lest we forget, it’s because they’re trying to hunt and kill someone. Again with the Coen-like set-up here.
Ready or Not is a devious good time with enough laughs and thrills to keep you engaged, though it does meander between some set pieces. The real joke arrives after you’ve left the theater and remember that this movie with severed heads, satanic rituals, and geysers of blood technically belongs to The Walt Disney Company, an unintended punchline but a funny one nonetheless.
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