By The Nerdling
This is a difficult movie to review. Not because it is a bad movie. But because it is a highly entertaining one. If I could, my review would be simply “if you enjoy horror movies with a perverse sense of humor and a good dose of body horror, then Ready or Not is for you.” And you would take my recommendation and head to your nearest theater.
Grace’s (Samara Weaving) wedding night is anything but magical. Her new in-laws have a long-standing tradition of when someone new comes into the family, they must draw a card to determine what game they will play that night. Playing games is the foundation of Le Domas family livelihood and Grace must participate in order to be accepted.
What makes Ready or Not difficult to review is it is best if you do not know more information than that, making it a little difficult to explain why you should go and see it. Marketed as a horror/comedy blend with a possible twist, you get it is exactly that.
Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett succeed where others have failed before. They walk the film along the fine line of high-tension stakes, dark humor, and shocking moments. Much like Shawn of the Dead or Cabin in the Woods, Ready or Not is very referential. It pays homage to what has come before, but still manages to be its own film.
Olpin and Gillett get a huge leg up from their star, Samara Weaving. Grace is the emotional center of the film and Weaving carries that weight with ease. We are with her as she journeys from the excitement of gaining a family to bemused confusion at the amount of tradition they hold to and then all of the horror. There are brief moments where the film focuses on her new husband, Alex (Mark O’Brien) as he struggles with his family’s beliefs, but the movie shines brightest when Weaving is on screen.
But that doesn’t mean the rest of the talented cast are not pulling their weight. They drive the tone of Ready or Not. The merry band of frenzied family members swing from dangerously terrifying to hilariously inappropriate like well-trained trapeze artists. While Weaving keeps us in all the feels, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell, Adam Brody, Elyse Levesque, Melanie Scrofano, Kristian Bruun, and Nicky Guadagni turn the perverseness to 11. Brody and Levesque nearly steal the show as the bitter married couple looking to just get through the unpleasantness. But the true MVP of all the crazy is Guadagni as the stanched traditionalist Aunt Helene. From her hilarious introduction on, she is exactly what you expect and want from that kind of character. Some may say she is way over the top, but I say chew that scenery more, Guadagni, chew it up.
Ready or Not is an obvious social commentary about a certain sect of the American population. What is either a relief or infuriating (depending on what side of the internet you like to yell from) is the film doesn’t beat you over the head with said commentary. One can easily relish the entertainment at face value or use the plot as a catalyst for a 1000-word rant on the internet.
Olpin and Gillett followed the successful formula of making a good, small budget horror movie. A talented cast who know exactly what type of movie they are in. An enclosed and atmospheric setting. A tight narrative and short run time. Destined to become a new addition to my horror movie marathon collection, Ready or Not promises an intense ride and delivers on the goods.
The Nerdling was born in the majestic land known as Texas and currently resides there after several years of journeying through Middle Earth in a failed attempt to steal the one Ring from that annoying hobbit, serving the Galactic Empire for a time, and then a short stint as a crew member on the Serenity. Since moving back to her homeland, Nerdling flirted with a hero reputation. Saving children from the dangers of adoring domineering, sparkly vampires (champions with souls are the only vampires worth loving) and teaching normals the value of nerdom, all while rooting for her beloved Dallas Stars. Then came the Sokovia Accords and her short spell of saving others came to an end. With Darth Vader’s reputation rightfully returning to badass status, Nerdling is making her way back to the Empire. They do have cookies, you know. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.