Movie Review: “Ready or Not” – Get Ready

Written by Jeremiah Greville September 24, 2019

Wow. That came out of nowhere!

Ready or Not is so much better than it had any right to be, and is exactly what’s advertised in the trailer. However, if you haven’t seen the trailer…don’t watch it. Some of the best bits of the movie are spoiled in it, and this is definitely a film you want to experience all at once. It’s the best sort of black comedy B-movie slasher romp, and a damn fine time at the cinema. And to think, it all starts with a game of hide and seek…

Ready or Not stars Samara Weaving — a eerie genetic splicing of Kaya Scodelario and Margot Robbie  —as Grace, the newlywed wife of Alex (Mark O’Brien), heir to the Le Domas board-game fortune. On the night of their wedding, at the stroke of midnight, Grace is forced to play a game as part of an old ritual to officially join the family. The game she has to play? Hide and seek. The rules? She has to stay alive inside the house until dawn, while the rest of the family hunts and tries to kill her. Ready or Not also stars Adam Brody, Andie MacDowell, Henry Czerny, and Nicky Guadagni. It’s directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett from a script by Guy Busick and R. Christopher Murphy.

“You’ll have to hide better than that.”

…and it’s awesome. Seriously. Ready or Not is surprisingly good. It starts slow, setting up the wedding day and the main characters that make up the eventual family hunting party, but once it gets started it doesn’t let up until the final frame. It takes a ridiculous premise and adds just enough backstory to make the moments we spend with the villains compelling, without humanizing them to the detriment of the film. And when the story gets to a place where you think they’re going to give up and take the safe route — hell no, they make a left-turn and the ride stays interesting.

I’m going to try very hard not to spoil anything specific about this film, but since it plays its premise so straight can probably guess the conclusion already. The rich family are the bad guys, some people die, and the main character is forced to fight her way through the night. All standard. Trust me, however, when I say that there are moments you won’t expect and definitely won’t guess. I don’t consider it a spoiler to say that she is hunted throughout, since it’s the basic premise of the film. And it’s interesting to see this same consideration in the film itself. While the script treats the first act reveal of the nature of the game like a twist, the film doesn’t. In other words, the music, the framing, the pacing — it’s all there assure you that something IS in fact up, and trusts that the audience knows the basic premise before things get started.

“…You continue to exist.”

This is an important point that I want to make clear: the filmmakers behind Ready or Not actually trust their audience. That’s really refreshing. They don’t go out of their way to hide the premise or make it something it isn’t. This is a trashy, funny little horror flick that knows exactly what it’s doing. It knows who its characters are and what the humour of the situation is. Part of the fun comes from the fact that the villains — a wealthy family using old-fashioned weapons to hunt down the main character — are entertaining screw-ups in their own right. We understand why they’re doing what they’re doing, even if we don’t buy into the truth behind it. Seeing them bicker and trade loyalties is half the fun.

 

There is a deeper story in Ready or Not about truth and family and marriage, but the film isn’t really concerned with delivering a message. Basically, it’s all in the title, and probably the only reason they didn’t call this film “Hide and Seek“, apart from the fact that there’s already a 2005 film of the same name. Thematically, it’s about the secrets we keep and how ready we are to share them with those we invite into our lives — our responsibilities to those around us. But on the surface it’s about a woman in a wedding gown being chased by rich weirdos. Ready or Not is delightfully self-aware, and doesn’t have a problem balancing the themes and the action. It only calls attention to itself in a few moments, and invites the audience to laugh along each time.

“Hey, you wanted to get married.”

Samara Weaving is great in the lead role, and really carries the her half of the film, but it’s the actors who make up her in-laws that steal the show. From belligerently-conflicted drunkard Daniel (Adam Brody) to the snotty doofus Fitch (Kristian Bruun) to Cruella DeVille’s evil stepmother Helene (Nicky Guadagni), the villains are spot-on. Some are complex while others are cartoonish, but each brings a distinct flavour all their own. And though Mark O’Brien’s Alex is initially bland and forgettable to the point of criticism, even that becomes a clear choice in the second half of the film. Ready or Not knows what it’s doing, and does it well.

Ready or Not is funny and surprising, with an escalating plot that swerves exactly when it needs to. If you’re looking for something similar, its closest relative may be 2011’s You’re Next, but instead of a surprisingly capable lead, we now have understandably bumbling antagonists. There are parts in this film that will make you squirm in your chair and others that will make you laugh out loud or even cheer. Bring friends. Get drunk. Talk in the theatre, because this one’s a whole lot of fun. The film is called Ready or Not, but trust me — you’re not. I definitely wasn’t.

Go see it if you can.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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About Jeremiah Greville

Jeremiah Greville is a pretty rad beard that's attached itself to a human face. The beard likes movies, television, comic books, and gentle finger rubs. The human likes pizza and sleep. When they work together, they write reviews. Hope you enjoy them!

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