Ready or Not (2019)
Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett
It is 6pm in Leicester Square. Fellow FilmBusters critic Scott and I, walk through a floral archway into a lovely decorated room, packed with smiling guests, waiters serving canapés and a bloodied bride beckoning us to come in. One by one we are bombarded and interjected into conversations with well-dressed individuals wielding a variety of weapons. Wacky wedding guests tell us the devilish games they want to play on an unsuspecting member of the bridal party. We’re asked to approach this elegantly dressed lady and count down from ten to see what happens. So we do. Crossing paths with the bloodied bride, Scott turns and shouts, “10, 9, 8, 7…” she is taken by surprise, not expecting anyone to actually attempt the foolish game her fellow cast members were tempting others with. “6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!” Eyes wide and shouting for help, she plays her part well. Already submerged in a surreal, yet brilliant fantasy world, it really set us up well for a hell of a bloody ride.
Grace (Samara Weaving) is about to get married into a prestigious family who earn their money from an assortment of games. Nervous and unsure of herself she craves acceptance and is eager to please at any opportunity. So when her new husband timidly asks her to join the rest of the ‘Le Domas’ bunch in the family room for an ‘innocent’ game, she is more than happy to oblige. Cue the maniacal satanic slaughterfest that we call ‘Ready or Not’.
I would be hesitant to call this a full-fledged horror film. It has flecks of horror elements sure, but the true punch and entertainment comes from its comedy. Fantastically fun and downright zany as hell, it zips along nicely, never really letting up until it’s absolutely blood drenched ending. The gore that is present was really well done, leaving me wincing through my fingers for a handful of scenes. It brandished some strikingly impressive make-up effects and hyper realistic CGI. I was craving more and more, which unfortunately is one of my biggest disappointments. The horror aspects were short and sweet, but I would have really appreciated and expected something a lot stronger. Luckily the element that shone brightest above all else was the films tremendous cast of kooky characters.
Samara weaving was made for this role! Her sense of humour fits the tone perfectly and from the very first scenes you instantly get a feel for what this film is trying to do. I first saw Samara in ‘The Babysitter’, which felt quite similar in tone, but this film and her role in it is far superior. Weaving really shows she can hold her own as a lead, proving even in solo scenes she has the capacity to hold the audience’s attention and enact mass laughter from a mere facial expression. I can see this role catapulting her into the public eye for sure and I feel she has the talent and charisma to last.
Where would this film be without its expertly written and distinctly different line-up of supporting cast? They were all entertaining and brought unique elements to the plot. I did have my favourites though. For example; the idiotic brother in-law who meanders through the story, not doing too much but delivering fantastic one-liners which almost sum up the audiences headspace in the moment. The old auntie who is hell-bent on finishing the game. Creating a hilariously ominous presence for Grace and the rest of the family. But there is nobody who resonates more than Adam Brody. He truly shines as one of the best and funniest characters of all. I have been hard on Brody in the past, but it seems with the right source material he is exceptional and I would love to see him in the spotlight a little more.
So although my blood lust was not sufficiently quenched, the well-written cast was enough to say I had a fantastic ride on this vivacious roller coaster. In the string of horror films released this year, it really ties the knot!