I had in-laws once... they were awful and I hated them so much.
My Journey to ‘Ready or Not’
Wednesday. August 21st, 2019. I was not planning to see Ready or Not at all that day. In fact, my mother and I were all set in seeing The Kitchen, starring Melissa McCarthy. A couple days prior we looked up screenings for what was playing in our town, and The Kitchen had a 1:05 p.m. showtime on Wednesday for the cinema that was across town from us. Since we were both excited in checking the flick out with how solid the trailer appeared, we were down for that afternoon to go off without a hitch. Once we arrived, the parking lot of the theater was a total dead zone. Honestly, it was rather eerie to not see another vehicle in sight outside of our own in the whole lot.
Walking up to the front doors in confusion, we were greeted by the entrances being completely locked without any sort of printed out sign acknowledging as to why that would be. A few moments pass by when finally an employee of the theater let me and my mom into the building. Inquiring what was going on, we learned that this theater doesn’t even open their doors until 1 in the afternoon and that our screening of The Kitchen was postponed until 7:30 that evening. In response, we both said “f*ck that noise” and proceeded in choosing another film as a replacement. As fate would have it, the very first screening of Ready or Not was set to play as 2:30, a whole hour and a half wait time, but there was nothing else of particular interest playing any sooner. Personally, I’ve been excited to see Ready or Not for several months now so I was totally cool with seeing it and my mom more or less begrudgingly accepted the predicament.
Rather than going back home or venturing off elsewhere, wasting gas to basically do nothing at all, we planted ourselves in that theater and waited. Approximately 90 minutes of nothing to pass the time, other than providing each other company and fiddling around on our cell phones. Time burned at a snail’s pace, boredom sank into our minds like a disease as we came to the horrifying realization that we needed this film to be good. For not only would we be spending the standard runtime of the feature to rely on its entertainment value, essentially at this point we will be dedicating an entire three hours to viewing this one movie. Ready or Not absolutely needed to, at the very least, be halfway decent or else this whole journey would have felt like a colossal waste of time… Or if it was worse than that… Was it a waste of three hours?
Three hours sitting in that theater was more than worth the experience of seeing Ready or Not. I implore anyone who may be reading this article to stop right here and rush over to your local cinema. This is not a joke, no I’m not pulling your chain or your leg or whatever else you want me to pull. Go see Ready or Not. This movie is a total blast. I really, really thoroughly enjoyed the absolute hell out of this twisted little dark comedy. Ready or Not balances dark comedy along with hair-raising thrills very well. This is through and through a horror-comedy that relishes in the macabre humor. If someone going into this feature maintains a relatively dark sense of humor then they should have a pretty solid time here. For anyone else, probably not so much. Ready or Not doesn’t hold back any punches with its over-the-top and blood-soaked action, tension-filled premise, intelligent themes dealing with family and violence, quirky antagonistic personas, and the occasional silliness that comes from their world. Worth every minute of those three hours I spent in that dark theater.
Grace (Samara Weaving) is the bride and this is her wedding night, one that she has to spend with her eccentric new in-laws inside of their gigantic mansion. However, not any ordinary night as the bride must partake in a terrifying game of “Hide and Seek” in order to be truly incorporated into the family. Taking a deadly turn as the family is on the hunt for Grace, unless she can survive until dawn.
This is a brilliant premise that’s been around for decades; another variation on top of the many interpretations of The Most Dangerous Game. Manhunting man. A tale old as time, as well as remarkably simple. When it’s told well then it can either accomplish some fantastic suspense or it can feel redundant and tired. Ready or Not, I would argue, falls into the category of the former. Opening the film immediately with a general understanding of this lethal game, while also establishing terrific character arcs that we witness unfold later on. When this unfortunate newlywed is introduced to the game, it flows naturally as to how and why certain details are withheld or deliberately explained straight away.
One might assume that the groom (Mark O’Brien), the man who was well aware of this game would have warned the woman beforehand or if not then he clearly has more sinister motives. Actually, it explains all of that very well in a way that is fresh. The groom isn’t secretly plotting against his newly wedded wife nor is he enjoying the threats bestowed upon her throughout the night. O’Brien’s character is developed in a way where it makes complete sense why he wouldn’t have told her about the danger prior and he is constantly trying his hardest to save her from this nightmare. It wasn’t even a guarantee that the new bride would have to play into the deadliest game as it was all basically left to the chance of drawing a card. Sadly, it turned out to be the one game that involved the bride being hunted down like an animal, but if she had so happened to have drawn any other playing card then she would have been none the wiser about the whole scenario. Every possible glaring plot hole is well enough explained to where I buy into why this guy wouldn’t have attempted some other method of running away or marriage or what have you. Allowing me to invest myself into this familiar narrative all the more effortlessly.
A few years back there was a film called You’re Next, not necessarily a duplicate picture by any means, but it shared a number of similarities with Ready or Not that I noticed. Similarities mainly in tone and characters that I found extremely annoying in You’re Next yet absolutely outstanding in Ready or Not. Both are thrillers that center on wealthy families that stumble upon a high-stress situation with death surrounding them, their dynamics and dialog contribute heavily to the humor as horrible things continuously occur throughout one deadly night. Granted, the positions that both these families find themselves in are drastically different but how they handle certain obstacles are somewhat reminiscent of one another. In You’re Next, I thought the family to be obnoxiously two-dimensional and I couldn’t stand a single member within their house of doom. In Ready or Not, the family had me in hysterics from laughter.
Injecting any horror movie with comedy is always such a conundrum; if the humor is improperly timed or tonally too abrasive, it may result in whiplash for the viewer and therefore take the audience entirely out of the scares and the laughs. It’s extremely difficult and risky to maneuver within the script, but when handled correctly then it can lead to huge amounts of fun. Ready or Not, in my opinion, worked phenomenally well with handling both the comedic elements and the horror too. When a scene calls for suspense, it makes sure to not interrupt it with any cheap gags. Then when the comedy does come into play, it makes sense from a character standpoint why it’s happening and never feels disingenuous. Every character’s reaction to the tragic predicaments that occur is what really instigates a lot of the comedy. Whether they are being an emotional exaggeration or inhumanly nonchalant, it adds to the characters in a way that keeps them all engaging in how funny they are to watch; including the villainous family that is hunting down our protagonist.
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Samara Weaving has actually been a standout talent that I’ve noticed for the last few years and have enjoyed pretty much everything that she brings to the table. Mayhem and The Babysitter are two wildly entertaining flicks that she is so obviously having a ball with her performance in, but Ready or Not is the one I’d argue where she gets to truly show the acting range that she’s capable of. Her character, Grace, is rather instantaneously likable. Seriously, within Weaving’s first line of dialog, I was on board with this character. She’s funny, she’s genuine, she’s cunning, and she perseveres through so much terrible sh*t on what should be the happiest day of this woman’s life. I absolutely love that I feel as though I’m really getting into this character’s headspace as she struggles through one terror after another from this family that she previously was looking forward to being a part of.
At the end of the day, it is somewhat saddening when one thinks about where this character comes from and the hopes that she held for integrating into a loving home. Grace is established early on to have been a foster child for many years and always yearned for a real family. That excitement and hope practically shine through in Weaving’s eyes and I swear I could feel that happiness infect me as I watched her performance in the first act. Then as things go awry, to see that hope of hers dwindle does add a lot to this character’s arc and also helps me understand how she mentally declines into total madness by the time we reach the third act. When this character fights for her life, I’m rooting for her every step of the way. When she gets maimed or injured in some way, I feel every bit of the pain she endures. Even when tensions rise and the action is ramping up, Grace still has a charismatic as hell personality that livens every scene up. I’m not simply watching some victim run away from maniacs for 90 minutes straight, I’m watching a three-dimensional person fight for her life. All while being pretty damn funny about it too, but not in a way where she knows she’s being funny, which is a strength of this character. At no point does it come across as though she’s winking at the camera and fully aware that she’s hilarious, much like John McClane in Die Hard, their humorous personalities are so strong that it feels natural when they have something witty or just straight-up funny to say in the middle of a hectic situation.
When it comes to this actor, I’m not going to lie, Brody hasn’t exactly been all that special to me. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a fine enough actor and he’s been in roles that I’ve liked him alright in. So far though, I can’t pinpoint a single performance where I’ve fallen madly in love with him by any stretch. He’s never annoyed me or pushed the wrong buttons, though I have yet to see him really sink his teeth into a character… that is until I saw him in Ready or Not. Brody quite possibly played my favorite character in the whole movie. This guy, Daniel, is pretty much drunk the entire night while all this chaos goes down. Hell, he’s downing drinks before the wedding has a chance to commence. The delivery that Brody supplies to this character is pitch-perfect because his reactions to all the death and gore that happens all around are pure gold. They’re gold because it’s as though this character is so far at the end of his ropes that when another terrible thing happens it’s like, “well sure, why not” with him. And it’s funny. It’s funny to see this dude not give a care in the world to acts of violence that would cause any normal person to have nightmares for an eternity.
Right away we get a general feel for what this guy is like, but then after a while Daniel’s whole life gets put into perspective and it’s fairly tragic to contemplate upon. Daniel is the product of someone who tried his whole life to be a decent human being, but because he knows the atrocities that his family has committed and he’s permanently linked to them always, he can’t escape the feeling that he is just as much of a monster as they are. Again, going along with the comedy feeding into character development; Daniel is a character where he isn’t trying to be funny, but he naturally is amidst the havoc. However this character’s comedic qualities also come from the tragedy and they feed into one another so well, creating a complex character that is amazingly entertaining.
All the Characters Were Successful
The psycho family was an aspect that I was worried as to which direction was going to be taken with them. Too zany or cartoonish could cause some irritation. Too underplayed could have been bland and boring. Thankfully there was care thrown into the writing of this family, as well as attentive direction given to every cast member for their roles. No one is a cartoon, but no one is boring. Again, my favorite of the family was hands down the one played by Adam Brody. However, that doesn’t negate the rest of the family who all have their own distinct personas and quirks that ensure not a single dull moment to be had. Even the family butler was amusing.
My personal second favorite of the bunch might be the overly energized, coked-out-of-her-mind sister that accidentally kills a number of the help around the mansion. She got quite a few laughs out of me. Although the groom was certainly close as he felt like a unique take on a familiar character, one that I was worried about falling under a cliché yet was pleasantly surprised with how the film played a specific character trope in a way that made sense.
What I loved about this family is that… they are a family and they act as such the whole way through. At no point does it feel like strangers standing in a room that don’t give a rat’s ass about each other. Nor does a scene spontaneously build in some lame contrivance to interject conflict. Any conflict that this family may and definitely have, the writing is never lazy about it and is intrinsic to everyone’s character. Regardless of personal conflicts, they all still care and they all bicker as any normal family would. Regular family squabbles while in the middle of hunting down a human being, contributing to how funny everything becomes. The clash of normality with the dark absurdity is what gives the movie such a delicious personality.
Something I wasn’t expecting while going into this film was the clever themes that the screenplay delves into about violence and how literally almost anything can feel normal when it is celebrated by one’s own family. Subtly written yet packs one hell of a punch because it brings layers to characters in ways that are interesting to think about. There is no black and white moral, it paints the picture as it is and all the gray areas that come with the territory. Never beating someone over the head with what the subtext tries saying, never shouting to the heavens how firearms are evil, and most certainly is not pretending to be some pretentious work of art claiming itself to be smarter than its audience. The screenplay proposes its standpoint on the matter and leaves the rest up to the viewer to mull over on their own terms. Ready or Not trusts its audience to be adult enough to digest everything while still providing more than plenty of entertainment to support its ideas.
The R Rating
This is rated R. Enjoy and get over it if you have a complaint.
The Ending (WITHOUT SPOILERS)
I’m not spoiling anything about the ending, but I do have to touch on the fact that things get nuts in the third act. When certain backstory components are introduced to foreshadow the events of the ending, I’m not going to lie when I say I was very nervous about if these elements were going to break the film for me. On the contrary, the execution was more than strong enough to turn me around and adore the ending. That doesn’t nullify that what happens for its conclusion is pretty damn strange. Some viewers may not be as willing as I was with the ludicrous nature of what happens, so with that, I warn anyone containing a “not so open mind” to attempt extending their suspension of disbelief in order to fully enjoy the picture. Seriously, what occurs in the final moments will either make or break someone’s immersion and enjoyment. For me, it was freaking awesome.
Ready or Not is a bloody insanity train that I would happily buy another ticket to ride on. I have nothing more on the matter, please just support this movie. It deserves much love and appreciation. Sadly, a lot of movies like this are almost destined to fail at the box office and only find an audience years down the line as a lowkey cult classic. Instead, let’s make this an instant success as it should be. Let’s support films that are bold, exciting, take risks and laugh at the horrors of this world. Support Ready or Not. I promise, you’ll thank me later.
That’s All Folks!
Ready or Not… Did you love it? Me too! Enough said. Comment down below and let me know what you think though. Thank you all so much for reading and have yourselves and great day… whether you’re ready or not… you know I had to.
© 2019 John Plocar