Cast: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell
Director(s): Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
Writer(s): Guy Busick and R. Christopher Murphy
Runtime: 95 minutes
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Ready or Not is lucky to be coming out right now as the summer is about to conclude. Why’s that? Because I’m pretty fond of horror-comedies that’s able to project good scares while also having a good sense of comedic purpose to ease those scares away.
What’s the Story: Grace (Samara Weaving, SMILF) has been recently married to Alex (Mark O’Brien), who’s a part of this rich, eccentric family. But on a tradition on the wedding night, the family has to initiate someone into the family, they have to play a certain game. Here, it’s hide and seek as Grace drew a card that says so. But what she doesn’t know is that her new in-laws basically has to find and kill her before dawn strikes.
I didn’t know much about the film since the red-band trailer was released and has such a crazy premise that I thought it looked pretty entertaining. But I was also nervous because of directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett a.k.a. Radio Silence, as one of the previous movie they did was 2014’s Devil’s Due, and I heard it was a massive stinkpile for the horror genre. Taking that issue aside and just wanting this to be a surprise late in the summer, Ready or Not is full-on fun and a freakin’ good original thriller at that.
We have to first talk about the beautiful Samara Weaving as Grace because she was terrific in this. She’s popped in other movies before, but this the Australian star’s first leading role that’s one of the best I’ve seen this year, in my opinion. Because she’s the main person that we’re rooting for throughout this night full of madness, seeing her feeling uneasy when she witnessed someone getting shot feels traumatizing when she has no idea what situation she got into.
With Ready or Not‘s combination of horror and black comedy being handled in here, it worked better than I expected. The use of tension was well established when there were a few moments where I was actually covering my mouth not knowing what was going to happen. And it does get pretty gory along the way, as per usual. The humor isn’t laugh-out-loud hilarious but still funny nonetheless.
But besides Weaving and out of the rest of the supporting cast, Adam Brody as Daniel, Alex’s brother, was such a delight and add to that comedic balance that’s injected to the story. That being said, everybody else was having a ton of fun, especially Henry Czerny and Andie MacDowell as Alex’s parents.
Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett directed a beautiful looking film with some well-done cinematography. I also have to give credit to the production design of the mansion, and the minimal usage of light to set the mood of the night fits the setting. Having its location just at this huge mansion already felt claustrophobic where not finding a place to escape and you feel like Grace trying to get out of there safe.
For a story about a family trying to kill this young girl with a deadly game of hide-and-seek, the writers know that it’s silly and they attempt to make it fun in the meanwhile. Plus, they do explain why this family keeps this tradition going when they know it’s absurd, and you kind of buy into it. Kind of plays on the idea that most rich people are probably psychopaths that are willing to have fun at other people’s expensive with no moral values.
If there were any problems that Ready or Not has going for it, some of the direction in the first act wasn’t as good as I thought. There were a few scenes I believe were hand-handled when a character is running, and it wasn’t working for me.
As I was watching this, I couldn’t help but think this is essentially a better version of either You’re Next and Funny Games. If you enjoyed those movies, then you’ll likely love this. Ready or Not is absolutely satisfying as a whole. If you’re into these kinds of horror movies that have a fun twist to its story, then go out and have a blast with this for its breezy runtime. Maybe when the time comes to re-watch this, does this have a chance to crack my top 10 list of the year? As I said, it has a chance.