Weddings. They’re always the same, aren’t they? Uncomfortable photos, embarrassing speeches, family members pretending to get along, human sacrifice and devil worship. That’s the line Ready or Not draws in the sand early on, and you’re either in or out from that point onwards in this comically violent and darkly humorous survival-horror film which is a lot smarter than it first appears.
With a swift opening scene we are quickly drawn into the world of Ready or Not. The Le Domas family have made their fortune in board games and in keeping with that, whenever someone marries into their family a game must be played at midnight. This seems harmless at first, but when the hide and seek card is chosen, the night soon turns into a game of survival.
In a year that has been full of noteworthy horrors all with their own message, it takes something special to stand-out from the crowd. Ready or Not does that, just about, with its lively pace and clever use of the horror genres tropes and clichés. By blending several different elements into this fun & snappy horror film, directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillet have added another skilled entry into their growing list of notable horror films.
After working together on horror anthologies V/H/S & Southbound, as well as full length feature Devil’s Due the pair have crafted a film full of wit and carnage, while being more than happy to take barbs at the establishment and the rich people who rule over us. In a similar vein to efforts like Us, Get Out, You’re Next and Rosemary’s Baby a deep political & social undercurrent runs throughout the film, but it never forgets to entertain and horrify its audience.
In Samara Weaving the film has a bona-fide leading lady in the making. After turns in The Babysitter and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri it is here as the newest member of the Le Domas family where she really cuts her teeth. Full of energy and strength, Weaving depicts a sympathetic character who makes smart choices in a genre where we normally scream at the film for its characters being so stupid. Instead of fighting, Grace instead spends most of the film evading her psychopathic captors and attempting to escape the situation she has found herself in. It’s a natural reaction, and one that audiences will immediately sympathise with.
The supporting cast add flavour to the film with each character bringing something unique. Adam Brody, who will surely always be known as Seth Cohen, plays the alcoholic Daniel who was first scarred by his family’s traditions at a tender age. He plays the role well and his addition to any film is always welcome. Henry Czerny and Nicky Guadagni sizzle as the elder siblings of the Le Domas clan and positively chew the scenery whenever they are on screen. The only character to suffer is Mark O’Brien’s Alex, who spends the majority of the film panicking about his predicament whilst handcuffed to a bed. Despite being a key character, he ends up being disassociated from the film and the audience.
There are some elements to Ready or Not that don’t quite click however. There are pacing issues at the start – after a sharp opening scene the next 20 minutes drag as the film seeks to set everything up, while a turn towards the end may not sit well with some audience members. Despite this, the films black humour runs throughout each scene with insults traded throughout and the dysfunctional family element played to its fullest. The result is a sharp, funny and stylish effort that makes the most of Weaving’s multiple talents.
Ready or Not is in UK cinemas now.