Review: A Stunning Samara Weaving Performance and Flipping Horror Tropes Make READY OR NOT a Must See Horror Comedy
I am going to try and keep this review very short, and very pointed. I could sit here and talk about this movie all day, but for you - the potential viewer - the less here the better. Ready or Not centers around Grace on her wedding day as she prepares to marry her fiancee Alex and enter into the wealthy and powerful Le Domas family, from who Alex has been willfully estranged. Leading up the the ceremony grace is primarily concerned that her soon to be in-laws won’t accept her, it is after the festivities that she is led into a twisted game that will determine her entry into the Le Domas dominion.
And that is all I am going to say about the plot, this truly is a film where the less you know going into it, the greater your enjoyment will be. And there is a lot to enjoy. Frequently films try to blend the horror/thriller genre and comedy but much more rare does one succeed on such an exceptional level. The writing, the actors timing and directing all work in unison to create such a wonderful balance that really nails the tone of the film consistently from start to finish. Never was I taken out of the experience by a badly placed joke or a slapstick use of shock & gore. First time film-writers Busick and Murphy deserve much praise, they’ve built a great self-contained story and do touch (lightly) on the ideas of toxic families and dangers of adhering too closely to tradition (I’ll leave it to others to decide if it is deliberate social commentary or not).
What surprised me most about this film was how absolutely gut-wrenchingly beautiful it was. The direction and cinematography was stellar. It seems lately there have been a lot of attempts at some sort of arthouse horror, which leads to bumbling cuts and unwarranted shots of scenes from odd angles that only hurt the viewing. Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett managed to avoid those pitfalls and pieced together a gorgeous movie. I found myself many times torn between being wowed by the acting, writing, or the camera work. In case you cannot tell, I was legitimately impressed.
The performances in Ready or Not are stellar across the board. Playing in the horror-thriller genre the quality of a performance can make or break a movie when you’re dealing with a strong need of suspension of disbelief. Samara Weaving is absolutely incredible here. She delivers what is instantly a classic performance. I can already see her topping many fans lists of “final girls” (though given she's the only one her candidacy is up for debate). However, I don’t think the idea of “badass bride” is going to be synonymous with Uma Thurman anymore. I was floored by her performance. Her reactions to the situations she finds herself in, from horror to shock to bemusement are wonderful. She gives what real feels like real commentary to what is going on around her. Adam Brody is great as always, just the right amount of charming to keep you guessing as to his real motives, and Mark O’Brien comes to life for the films final act when he finds himself more centralized. But I would be remiss if I failed to mention the supporting cast. Everyone in this film played their part fantastically. Seeing Andie MacDowell play against type was greatly entertaining and Henry Czerny was also fantastic.
Ready or Not really felt like a much needed breath of fresh air. It takes horror tropes and turns them on their heads at every turn. The classic idea of a powerful murderous family has been done so often to varying degrees of success, seeing it disassembled like this is great. Transporting the genre into modern 2019 and how these archetypal characters operate in that setting was wonderfully fun, and the jokes that come as a result (googling, youtube, facetime etc) are played perfectly where they could easily have been jaring and cringy.
Basically, go see this movie. Don’t even read this review. Go see it before anyone can tell you anything about it. Just go. Because, whether you’re ready or not, you are in for a treat.