Ready or Not Movie Review
Weddings are full of traditions. Boring ceremonies. A lot of white. Embarrassing relatives you’re forced to invite. Games of hide and seek in which the groom’s family attempts to murder you before sunrise. It’s all in good fun. For the memories.
Ready or Not is the bloody, smarmy horror movie 2019 needed, a punch to the face and a crossbow arrow to the heart. While far from perfect, it’s a darkly humorous union that gets better as it goes along until tying the knot in explosive fashion.
From a group of filmmakers you haven’t heard of, Ready or Not stars Samara Weaving, who begins the film as an attractive, playful blonde and slowly transforms into a blood-soaked hero who takes on her shitty in-laws in a way few people can even dream to imagine. Weaving is downright awesome, her evolution as a character an absolute delight. She absolutely owns every scene.
The movie itself is a lot of fun, even if it could have been so much more. The movie is packed with creative or at least gruesomely delicious death scenes—the filmmakers know how to elicit a laugh out of someone dying in horrible ways—but the in-between scenes waver between humorous and nearly missing the mark entirely. The screenplay relies heavily on swearing to sound edgy, but it’s hard not to see that sharper writing could have led to more laughs, more intensity, and a more satisfying experience.
It’s not that Ready or Not is poorly written—it just isn’t as clever as it thinks it is, at least as far as the dialogue and characters are concerned.
Beyond Weaving, the rest of the cast varies in strength—Adam Brody gives a surprisingly complex and tortured performance, and Andie MacDowell has her moments as the sort-of conflicted mother-in-law. But Kristian Bruun, in one of the film’s smaller roles, isn’t given much to do even in the scenes he’s in, even though it appears the filmmakers think they’ve created one of the funniest characters in the movie. Melanie Scrofano starts strong in a gleefully homicidal and drug-fueled role, but the movie loses sight of her once things really kick into gear. And the patriarch, played by Henry Czerny, is a bit of a nothing character even though he has prominent screen time.
Despite its shortcomings, Ready or Not has a killer concept and a killer plot. It’s initially patient—arguably too patient—but once the reality of the game is revealed, it’s hard not to get enthralled by the action. I would have liked to see more of the movie limited to the house—the mansion, with its secret corridors and massive rooms, was ripe for some creativity scenery—when the story shifts outside, the movie flirts for a while with being a stereotypical slasher in the woods.
The explosive ending is a blast as well.
Ready or Not could have handled its characters a little better and landed some better lines, but it’s a well-executed horror-comedy-thriller with a badass heroine and a clever story that will leave you buzzing as you walk down the aisle.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.