Ready Or Not, 2019.
Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett.
Starring Samara Weaving, Andie MacDowell, Mark O’Brien, Adam Brody, Henry Czerny, Nicky Guadagni, Melanie Scrofano, Kristian Bruun, and Elyse Levesque.
A bride’s wedding night is flipped upside down when the family she marries into has a strange tradition. Instead of a beautiful night with her new husband, Grace must fight her way through the new in-laws to stay alive.
My feelings on Ready Or Not leave me more conflicted than the two battling sides in the actual film. On the one hand, this is a quick, little horror-comedy romp that doesn’t need much thought. On the other hand, Ready Or Not is a movie done dirty by its comedic elements as there’s a seriously scary film deep down inside.
Like your parents used to tell you as a kid; I’m not mad, I’m just a little disappointed with Ready Or Not. By no means is this a “bad” movie as it features impressive acting and some genuinely good horror moments, but those come few and far between to satisfy this genre lover. Undercutting tension/action/scares is always something you need to worry about when crafting a movie where you are including comedy to the mix. A complaint towards the Marvel Cinematic Universe was the comedy ruining some serious moments, and you can see this problem in many Hollywood action movies.
The balancing act between horror and comedy is even tricker than those as you are dealing with two polar opposite genres and trying to find a middle ground. Look at Scream as an example as something that blends both well; an entertaining horror film that never sacrificed the scares or tension for a moment of fun. Ready Or Not goes more into the camp of Cabin In The Woods or Tucker & Dale vs. Evil; a more comedic film with deep roots in horror but goes more for fun.
While this is just purely subjective, I believe Ready Or Not needed more of a tone like Scream than Cabin In The Woods. For a more sharper comparison, this movie could’ve been closer to the style of Adam Wingard’s You’re Next and felt like a remarkable moment for the genre. In the end, though, this feels more like one of the countless horror comedies you can find streaming right now.
Things aren’t all doom and gloom in this review. If I walked away with anything from Ready Or Not, it’s that Samara Weaving is an absolute star. Growing up in the ’90s, we all saw the rise of Sarah Michelle Gellar as this blonde bad-ass scream queen. Well, let’s say this movie is Samara Weaving’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer. From start to finish, Ready Or Not is dependent on her brilliant performance.
While she doesn’t get to kick ass much as she deserved, Weaving holds her own in the moments of violence. But her real credit to this film is she’s the only one to find the balance in the film’s script. Her moments of comedy – usually to herself in a moment of freaking out – are needed and feel way more grounded than the other’s jokes. While this generation of horror needs a go-to actress like this, it’s not hard to see every studio will be fighting for a piece of her after this.
Ready Or Not is also a well-directed movie with every piece of the puzzle fitting together. The directing team of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett knock it out of the park everywhere else that it almost makes up for the tonally-odd script. From the cast to the cinematography, everyone seemed to be working towards the directors’ vision, and it shows as this feels like a complete product.
The look of the film is one of the best things as well. Any time a character left the house, worry would settle in as if we’d never see it again. During some scenes, I found myself just staring at the production design more than the character moments on-screen. Sorry, but the third scene with the family looking at a computer screen, I’m going to start looking at the breathtaking set behind them. Someone needs to hire this production designer for the inevitable Clue remake because this is just stunning work.
There have been worse horror movies this year (Annabelle Comes Home, Pet Sematary), but there’s been far better (Midsommar, Us). So, Ready Or Not falls right into the middle as one of the more mixed of the bunch. While there’s nothing wrong with that on the surface, it’s just a shame to see so much left on the table here.
If I ordered this movie at a restaurant, I’d send it back with a complaint that there’s a little too much comedy in my horror.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★