Ready or Not is a horror/comedy about a young woman named Grace (Samara Weaving) who is marrying into a very rich family of card game and board game manufacturers. On their wedding night, Grace’s new husband, Alex (Mark O’Brien), informs her that they have a family tradition in which everyone who becomes a new member of the family must play a randomly-selected game. When she draws the card for “Hide & Seek,” the family’s patriarch (Henry Czerny) tells her that she will be the sole objective in a family-wide game of hide-and-seek inside their enormous mansion. But once the other members of the family begin seeking her, she figures out that the game is, in fact, to-the-death, and the family has rather sinister plans for her.
A lot of my favorite movies are those that infuse dark, often over-the-top, comedy into an already somewhat ridiculous or campy horror film; movie’s like Evil Dead 2, The Howling, Fright Night, Re-Animator, The Frighteners, Theatre of Blood, etc. This type of film is perfectly suited to my personality, and Ready or Not is very much in that same vein.
I really liked this movie. It’s no kind of cinematic exploration of the human condition; it’s just pure, unadulterated craziness, and it’s tons of fun. With a premise that’s as ludicrous as Ready or Not’s is, it would be foolish to attempt to make a serious, dramatic horror film out of it. The film is well aware of how silly its story is, and the tone reflects that. It’s got a very similar sick sense of humor to a lot of the movies I listed above, and I always enjoy that. I also thought that the set was really cool. It all takes place in this labyrinthine mansion that give the film a sort of Gothic atmosphere in the more serious moments, and I feel like modern horror needs more of that.
Samara Weaving was actually in a couple of slightly under-the-radar horror/comedies in 2017: Mayhem and The Babysitter. She was also in a few episodes of “Ash vs. Evil Dead” before that, so she’s no stranger to this type of movie and tone. I could easily see her becoming one of the next great “scream queens” in the coming years, because she really has a knack for it. In addition to the cast members I listed before, the supporting cast also features recognizable character actors Adam Brody and Andie MacDowell. It was cool seeing them in a movie like this, especially since, to my knowledge, MacDowell never has been. I also have to give props to Henry Czerny, because he is clearly having the time of his life here. He is given several opportunities to chew the scenery, and it’s entertaining as hell. Honestly, the cast doesn’t really have any weak links, and in the horror genre, that’s not entirely common, so hats off!
A movie like this often relies largely on the violence to make the audience laugh, and Ready or Not is no exception. There’s a plethora of good ol’ fashioned splatter in this film, and more often than not, it gets a big laugh (especially during the rather unexpected finale, which had me doubled over in laughter). There’s also a character who is notoriously a screw-up, and there are a couple of times where she kills people accidentally. Again, most of the humor here is pretty morbid, so while it likely won’t be for all tastes, it is absolutely for mine. And that’s not to say that all of the bloodshed is played for laughs. While the majority of it is shocking, some of it is meant to be sincerely frightening, and most of those moments worked. Those that didn’t, however, didn’t come off as annoying or superfluous, though. They just didn’t really generate much of a reaction.
Ready or Not is the kind of movie I’m always excited to see. Its blend of tense horror and ghoulish humor feels very natural, and it’s packed with loads of gory, splattery goodness. Bolstered by grand, Gothic set pieces and a terrific cast, this is one of the best horror/comedies to come out in recent years.