Ready or Not review Samara Weaving horror

Year: 2018
Director(s): Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
Writer(s): Guy Busick, Ryan Murphy
Region of Origin: US
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Rating: R
Digital, Color, 95 mins

Synopsis: A bride’s wedding night takes a sinister turn when her eccentric new in-laws force her to take part in a terrifying game. (Source)

In a world full of sequels and adaptations, Ready or Not stands confidently on its own. Sure, it’s not reinventing the wheel, but what makes it so fun is how filmmakers Radio Silence (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett and Chad Villella) toy with our expectations. They know exactly what we horror fans want, but have done it all with their singular sense of style and energy. This is a crowd pleasing effort that makes us cheer and beg for more. It’s also an awesome vehicle for star Samara Weaving. She commands the stage and gifts the genre with a brand new, witty, resilient final girl. 

Grace (Samara Weaving) is about to marry Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien), an estranged member of the wealthy Le Domas family. His family is part of a gaming dynasty, having shepherded a historic board game enterprise for centuries. On the eve of their wedding, Alex and Grace navigate the family in different ways. She’s eager to be welcomed into a new life, but the Le Domas’ seem hesitant to add another to their flock. Meanwhile, Alex is head over heels over Grace, but hates his family, wanting nothing more than to take Grace and leave them for good. After the ceremony, the Le Domas’ initiate a seemingly innocuous tradition. Grace must play a game of hide and seek with the Le Domas’ in order to solidify her new pact. Little does she know, that the game is part of an insidious ritual that requires blood and sacrifice, namely through her. 

Bottom line, Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett are having fun with their simple, elegantly nuanced premise. After an economical set up, the titular game begins and hooks us with a cascading sense of chaos, twists and gore. Despite the somewhat large cast, each character is easily distinguishable, each with their own identifying hangups and quirks. As Grace scurries from hidden passage to corner nook, hiding and fending for herself with literal tooth and nail, Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett create a rich world through the Le Domas’ ornate, dense mansion. Each room is more imposing than the last, with a myriad of medieval weapons helping to supply the carnage. This film doesn’t hold back on the blood and guts, gleefully dispatching its characters with a laugh and a smile. Still, underneath it all, Grace is a relatable character fighting a primal battle. The Le Domas’ are a smart stand-in of corrupt, privileged one-percenters and the deranged games they’ll play to stay up on top. 

Ready or Not review horror

Following through on Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett’s assured direction, is a cast that humanizes the madness. At the top, Samara Weaving’s Grace is unmissable. Weaving has slowly been showing how much range she has, and in this film, she creates an action hero with depth and fragility. Yes, she can be tough when things call for it, but she’s also able to float the absurdity with sincerity. She plays everything straight, making the film’s deadpan tone that much funnier. The rest of the ensemble speaks for themselves, being a really smart mix of seasoned vets spanning different ages and comedic/dramatic strengths. In particular, Kristian Bruun’s Fitch is comedic dynamite, while Adam Brody’s Daniel adds heart. 

Again, Ready or Not isn’t anything revolutionary, but it really doesn’t need to be. It’s a film made by smart directors, with a story that strikes more than one type of nerve. We laugh, we’re shocked and we’re angered by the light socio-political context. We’re also completely satisfied when it’s all said and done. This is the kind of film that feels like it’ll hold up on multiple viewings, whether right away, in the future, or with a bunch of unsuspecting friends. I definitely can’t wait to see it again down the line.

SG