Sadly it would appear that the summer movie season is over for 2019. It is one of the most depressing times of the year where studios throw everything out knowing that everyone is trying to soak up the last bit of summer before school or work or whatever takes over in the fall. Sometimes a forgotten gem will get thrown into this time of the year and based on the trailers for this, I was pretty excited for what could end up being a gem.
To cut to the chase a bit early, the trailers sold this movie perfectly. The plot is a fun one for a horror movie. Grace (Samara Weaving) marries into the wealthy Le Domas dominion, a family that has made their wealth in card and board games. As per tradition, the family must play a game at midnight after the wedding. The game that is chosen is hide and seek and the rest of the movie is a game of cat and mouse between Grace and her new in-laws. Of course things are made more complicated with the addition of a family curse where they must sacrifice Grace to complete the necessary ritual.
So you can imagine with a bit of a ridiculous concept, this movie would have to be just as ridiculous and I can safely say that it certainly never makes any effort to take itself all too seriously. There is violence in here for sure but it is rarely played for horror, instead it is often the punchline of the joke or delivered with darkly comedic tones. If you are not the kind of person to find the well-time painful murder of a side character to be funny, perhaps this is not one for you.
As dark as that sounds, Ready or Not does not rely solely on shock value to get a laugh out of its audience. Instead, I found the funniest characters were the members of Grace’s new extended family. Some personal favorites of mine are Emilie (Melanie Scrofano), Grace’s jittery new drugged-up sister-in-law, her pampered husband Fitch (Kristian Bruun), and Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni), a caricature who looks like they would fit right in if they chose to make another live-action Addams Family.
But without a question, the biggest star of this movie is Samara Weaving, who totally comes into her own with this role. She is far from a damsel in distress but also never comes across as this uber feminist icon. Instead, she remains grounded in reality with some added personality quirks thrown in. Even if we do not get to get too deep into Grace’s psyche, we learn enough about her and she presented as likable enough for you to cheer for her the entire time. This is honestly the kind of female protagonist I think more mainstream movies should be aiming for. There are no moments that feel like forced empowerment or that felt like they were written with the sole intent of getting a “YAZ QUEEN” from you. Just an authentic person realizing they are in an insane situation and fighting like hell to get out of it.
In addition to an excellent ensemble, the tone of this movie is probably not going to get the positive attention it deserves. It really is rare to find a horror-comedy that is able to blend those two elements together well. Even if this style of horror was not particularly scary to me, it was still tense and the humor acted to relieve that tension while also calling attention how intense the situations in the movie are. Even if some of the one-liners don’t hit the mark, I was still chuckling consistently throughout this. And the ending is about as satisfying as it gets for a movie like this. No spoilers, obviously, but I have to admit I was a big fan.
So if you go into Ready or Not with the expectation you will be treated to some dark comedy, gore and an overall fun ride, you will not be disappointed. That being said, I do wish the movie had taken a few more risks. The story, while engaging, is simple and rarely does it try to do much new within the realm of the fun concept. This is far from reinventing the wheel by any stretch. So while fun, the lack of something a little great is likely going to hold me back from remembering this for years to come.
But considering the time of year it is and what this movie set out to achieve I would recommend you see this one, especially with a group if you can. It isn’t gonna be anyone’s favorite of the year but it is an incredibly fun way to spend 95 minutes and you will likely be happy you gave it the time.