Those who have complained about lack of originality in recent Hollywood films should look no further than one of 2019’s greatest delights, Ready or Not. The Bettinelli Olpin and Tyler Gillett movie center on a young woman, Grace, who is persuaded to play a deadly game of hide and seek with her villainous in-laws on the night of her wedding.
The movie is a delightfully dark comedy that puts a new twist to the slasher genre, combining thriller and supernatural elements to create something wholly new and profoundly enjoyable.
Samara Weaving, who plays the bride forced to flee from and hunt down her in-laws, is dazzling in her breakout role, imbuing Grace with charm and steely determination. Having not seen her work before, it was a pleasant surprise to see Weaving give such a textured performance as her character navigated through the ever-increasing insanity of the night.
Supporting her in the film are a slew of TV vets: Revenge’s Henry Czerny playing Tony Le Domas, The O.C’s Adam Brody stealing scenes as Daniel, Orphan Black’s Kristian Bruun and Halt and Catch Fire’s Mark O Brien as Grace’s sweet husband.
It’s easy to tell from the casting list alone that Fox’s Ready or Not is a relatively low-budget flick, and yet despite the film being set entirely in one location, the film doesn’t wear out its welcome before it ends. Andie MacDowell, who plays Mrs. Le Domas, is also a vision, though, given her pedigree, it would have been better to see her in more scenes.
On the flip side, the movie does give Adam Brody room to showcase his acting chops by giving his character more complex, leaving Brody’s Daniel to be a wild grey card in the cat and mouse game. The screenplay by Guy Busick and R. Christopher Murphy is slick in all the right ways.
Brimming with nail-biting and chuckle-inducing scenes, the duo manages to craft a script that takes its time to add depth to several supporting characters while keeping the overall film under a hundred minutes. With the film dabbling into satanic rituals and deals with the devil, in the wrong hands, Ready or Not could have been a needlessly grim, schlocky collection of tired tropes.
Instead, the writers do an excellent job balancing the tones of the situations and allow the actors to have fun with their roles. There is something quite striking about an armed bride in white running around a gothic mansion, and it is all the more arresting to witness the changes the character and her dress undergo as the film continues.
The movie is paced quite well. I would have liked to know a bit more about some of the supernatural elements that seem to be at play, part of the joy of Ready or Not is wondering if the Le Domas family is purely insane or acting out of some self-interest. The twists in the movie, while not brazen, are fun to watch unfold.
And to the film’s credit, you really aren’t sure whom you can trust, if anyone, and how the movie will ultimately end. Making effective use of its gothic setting and short run time to bring forth something original, Ready or Not is a blast from start to end.
With a talented cast and sharp writing, the horror-comedy is likely to be remembered with the likes of films such as Game Night, in light of how they both brought something new to their genres.
The movie is also not concerned with setting up sequels or being too heavy-handed on occult themes, even if the movie is messy and gory in all the right ways. And however ready or not you may be to see this film, you will likely find yourself very surprised by Samara Weaving’s tour de force performance.