Ready or Not is an extremely messy horror comedy that is insanely madcap, gory, tense yet also very funny from start to finish with an especially great performance by the lead actress. This takes the locked house thriller genre and throws in a bunch of people who really don’t know what they’re doing. It has effective scares and black comedy laughs as people get splattered. This leads to an awesome and unforgettable closing few minutes that kicks the whole thing up a notch. Murder and mayhem abound as this is a solid fun time.
Grace (Samara Weaving) is marrying Alex (Mark O’Brien) much to the consternation of the incredibly rich Le Domas family who built their fortune on a gaming empire. After the wedding, and a lot of stern looks from Auntie Helene (Nicky Guadagni), she is told that at the stroke of midnight, she must gather with the Le Domas members and pick a card to play a game. Even though she finds it weird, she goes along to make her new husband happy, and the card she picks is Hide and Seek. As Grace hides, the Le Domas family grabs weapons like guns and crossbows as the patriarch Tony (Henry Czerny) says they have to kill Grace before dawn or they will all perish. Alex’s drunk brother, Daniel (Adrian Brody), is resigned to going along while Alex’s mother Becky (Andie MacDowell) sees this as an opportunity to reconnect with her son. Now Grace must dodge crazy butlers (John Ralston), bumbling husbands (Kristian Bunn), a locked down house, loud servants and more.
Weaving has had a lot of smaller roles over the years but this is her first big lead and she absolutely nails it. Being the girl stalked in a horror movie is predominantly a lot of screaming but Weaving is likable and adds a unique intensity. She has a way of making hollering sound kind of different, like when she’s finally cornered by the crazy family and almost goes feral. Her best stuff is the reactions to the insanity, like when she rants to an unhelpful car operator and how she responds to things going nuts in the final few minutes is gold.
The family is okay with people hunting because their ancestor literally made a deal with the devil for their fortune. Them being irritated they can’t kill the girl as bodies pile up is a good source of dark humour. Emilie (Melanie Scrofano) enthusiastically does copious amounts of drugs although she is still a terrible shot. When she accidentally bumps off the help it only makes her sad that she has bad aim, not that she killed someone. Her dopey husband, played excellently by Bunn, is annoyed that he’s stuck with a crossbow and has some great annoyed side–eye reactions, wondering if this deal with the devil is legit. Grace’s new husband doesn’t want to go along with the game leading to his most interesting stuff in the finale.
Czerny as the father has a sense of self–righteousness that what he is doing is for the best, while McDowell as the mother thinks that murder would make the bond with her son stronger. As the aunt who keeps the traditions alive, Guadagni has some awesome shots where she glares angrily at Grace and she gets more crazed as the night unfolds. Brody is the son who begrudgingly accepts what is happening but he isn’t enjoying it, playing a character who never reveals where his allegiances lie as he’s constantly bickering with his nattering wife, Charity (Elyse Levesque). The butler just seems to enjoy the mayhem, constantly singing to himself as Ralston plays a very strange wild card whenever he confronts Grace.
The mixture of thriller and comedy is a difficult one, sometimes a horror comedy movie can come off as more jokes with the splatter seeming incongruous. What Ready or Not does is play the horror moments very straightforward and the humour comes from bits of dialogue, eccentric characters and how people react nonplussed to insane violence. There’s a good a scene with Grace hiding from the butler is genuinely tense and broken when he starts happily singing to himself. There are some compelling bits where things go sideways for Grace, as she has a scene where she’s stuck in a barn that leads to a very painful escape. When the hunt starts, Grace is hiding in a dumbwaiter unknowing of what is to come and when the bullets start flying it gets intense quickly. Since there is a dumbwaiter in a horror movie, naturally it is eventually used in a very gory mishap. The biggest moment, and something that makes it genuinely great, is how off the wall it gets in the final few minutes. Ready or Not takes an unexpected, memorable turn threading the difficult needle of horror and comedy as Weaving reacts perfectly.
Ready or Not is a nifty, bloody, gem of a film that plays things so nuts that the audience never can guess what is going to happen next. Quips, bullets and arrows keep flying along as Grace tries to escape one insane night. The trick is that it manages to be still jovial and entertaining even as multiple people are being accidentally horribly murdered. V
Ready or Not
Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin
and Tyler Gillett
Starring: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody
and Mark O'Brien