Family traditions can be a little brutal…
Ready or Not while a little soft on the genuine scares makes up for it with a Ry sense comedy and social commentary about the upper classes while making sure to drench it in buckets of glorious viscera and blood.
A young bride (Samara Weaving) joins her new husband’s (Mark O’Brien) rich, eccentric family (Adam Brody, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell) in a time-honored tradition that turns into a lethal game with everyone fighting for their survival.
While it more than qualifies as a horror movie affair, Ready or Not actually takes us into the realm of social satire that is wrapped up in some delightfully gory trappings.
Coming off of a career of shorts and segments in anthology films like Southbound and V/H/S this is actually the second feature for directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett and they’ve managed to up their game by giving us something that is equal parts simple and slick. The production design has a real gothic feel to it as it locks us into essentially another world while the script from writers Guy Busick and R. Christopher Murphy keeps some real humor in it all, highlighting some of the genuinely crazy behaviour that people can be driven to in a need to succeed and stay on top in life.
While it lacks the subtlety or nuance to be a movie that ends up a cult classic, it throws around enough of the right ideas in a story execution style that is akin to a sledgehammer and none of it is quite as clever as it thinks it is, but it all still works really well. All this allows the visceral nature of the violence (which includes a fair amount of viscera that is flying around) to be kind of fun which is really all we honestly want to see anyway as the narrative’s bat shit level of brutality is kind of refreshing.
Samara Weaving was a great choice as our young bride Grace as she delicately walks the line between a young, vulnerable woman who wants a family of her own against someone who in the course of an evening learns what kind of family she’s REALLY marrying into and the figurative (as well as LITERAL) bullets that she needs to evade in order to survive the night. It’s a character journey of self-discovery that is splattered all over the screen with a thick layer of blood, she had to pay her dues to become her own woman and figure out that she doesn’t need the family archetype to survive and thrive in the world, because as she so clearly learns…it can be kind of fucked up.
The family which includes the likes of Mark O’Brien, Adam Brody, Henry Czerny and Andie McDowell all deliver some fine character work in support of the overall premise but they don’t always get to stand out as the script occasionally hiccups with some uneven and under developed moments along with some that needed a little bit of a trim that caused some slight but noticeable pacing problems. But it is nice to see some homegrown Canadian talents like O’Brien, Czerny, Melanie Scorfano and Kristian Bruun get a chance to shine.
Ultimately, Ready or Not isn’t quite the movie you’ll expect or ultimately hope that it is. However, it comes so damn close that you just can’t help but get wrapped up in all the fun of remembering that family can come with some pretty strange prices along the way.