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“Ready or Not” Film Review

The horror genre, for all of its recent wins and innovations, is still a genre built upon old and tired tropes. “Ready or Not” flips through the expected and tosses them to the side with a curt, “No, thank you.” And that’s, of course, assuming that one considers “Ready or Not” a horror film.

The truth is that “Ready or Not” is something very unique. It’s part action, part mystery, part horror and several parts comedy. The story, the performances, the tone and even the sprinkling of social comedy are blended so well and seem to be made of the finest stuff from different areas of film. “Ready or Not” stacks and goes down like a carefully crafted cocktail; it brings an easy smile to the face and leaves you with a good buzz.

In “Ready or Not,” a young bride’s wedding night takes a sinister turn when her wealthy and eccentric in-laws force her to take part in a terrifying game. The film stars Mark O’Brien as Alex Le Domas, Adam Brody as Daniel Le Domas, Andie MacDowell as Becky Le Domas and the incomparable Samara Weaving as Grace. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin (“V/H/S” and “Southbound”) and Tyler Gillett (also of “V/H/S” and “Southbound”) share directing credit on the film and bring their underrated brand of horror to a project that is brimming with huge talent in unexpected places.

Ready or Not
Samara Weaving as Grace | Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight

Speaking of the unexpected: It’s always great to see your favorites in film, but there is something to be said for freshness. Not just freshness of idea or execution, but fresh-faced actors that aren’t overused or expected. This is something that “Ready or Not” does very well, and this critic readily heaps praise upon them.

What can I say about “Ready or Not” as a whole? It’s fun. It’s that really good kind of fun that you want out of every film-going experience. I don’t say this often, but I firmly believe that this film actually does have a little bit of something for everyone.

It strikes an incredible balance between horror and comedy. “Ready or Not” is a frightening film with gore and scares galore, but has this delightfully sardonic tone and it takes such a casual approach to horror that it dances into that sweet dark comedy spot. Of course, there’s just a sprinkling of class warfare and commentary in the mix, but that’s honestly one of the best parts.

“Ready or Not” is intelligently devised and pieced together with great intention. At no point is a particular message beating you over the head, but you’re well aware of the film’s stance and the greater picture of what it’s trying to say. Days after screening the film, there were little chuckle-worthy moments that got me to thinking.

Forget “Hail Satan” — all hail Weaving. Her performance, hell, her presence absolutely makes the film. Weaving is one of those faces that seems familiar, but you can’t quite place her. Many of you will know her from Netflix’s “The Babysitter.” On top of her truly charming beauty (some have compared her to fellow Australian actress Margot Robbie), Weaving has such relatable ease that speaks perfectly in her character.

Weaving brings a subtle hilarity to Grace, our young bride-in-distress, while also delivering a quintessential “final girl” performance with the bearing of a seasoned action star. To say she’s got great range would be an understatement. It’s without hesitation that this critic credits so much of the film’s success to the inspired choice to hand the reins over to Weaving as the lead. Well done.

My verdict? “Ready or Not” is as wicked, fun and clever as the sinister games at the center of the plot. These are the films that do not come around often, and you certainly don’t want to miss this one! I give it my highest recommendation, and don’t be surprised if it shows up on some top 10 lists later in the year.

“Ready or Not” is in theaters now.

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