I don’t know about you guys, but the summer of 2019 has already given us numerous truly great genre offerings already, which might make the following statement hard to believe. But, dear readers, the best is yet to come. This week, Ready or Not is set to hit theaters everywhere. It is not only one of my favorite films of the entire year, but it’s a wickedly fun and darkly comedic game of cat and mouse that subverts expectations at every turn, and once again proves that Samara Weaving is (and pardon my French) THE SHIT and should be in everything.
Directed by Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Ready or Not introduces us to Grace (Weaving) and Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien) who are about to get married at the palatial estate of Alex’s eccentric family who have made a name for themselves and built their fortune through their successful board game company. After they wed, Grace is told that her new in-laws have a very strict tradition of indoctrinating newcomers into the Le Domas family by spending the evening playing a game together.
It’s a mystery as to what type of competition Grace will be subjected to, but on this fateful night, the newly-wedded bride ends up with “Hide and Go Seek” as her contest, which is most unfortunate for her, because it’s the one game you don’t want to play if you’re a new member of the Le Domas clan. And as Grace sets out to find a place in the family’s expansive mansion to hide herself away, the rest of Alex’s kin prepare themselves to seek and destroy his unsuspecting spouse, using a cavalcade of weaponry that’s bound to do some bodily damage – or even worse.
The are numerous reasons why I loved Ready or Not as much as I did (which I’ll dig into momentarily) but the film’s biggest asset is easily its wildly unpredictable script from writers Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy whose whip-smart prose often left me in stitches and wondering just what sort of shenanigans they were going to throw at Grace (and us viewers) next. Something I’ve mentioned before on Daily Dead is how much admiration we have for films that could be deemed as “talkies” in our household, and Ready or Not very much fits into that category, which tickled my proverbial fancy in all the right ways.
As mentioned, Weaving is an absolute delight and a total badass in Ready or Not, and she completely throws herself into the role of Grace, delivering a pitch-perfect performance that runs the gamut of cheeky crassness, childlike bewilderment, total and complete terror, and eventually, rebellious warrior who isn’t about to go down without a fight. Weaving has been great in everything that I’ve seen her in (Joe Lynch’s Mayhem, The Babysitter and her brief stint on Ash vs Evil Dead), but Ready or Not demonstrates her rising star power and I hope this leads to even more work in the future (she’s currently on the new Bill and Ted sequel, so I’m stoked about that).
Beyond Weaving, the entire cast of Ready or Not are all excellent, delivering memorable characters that will stick with you long after the credits role. Adam Brody, who has been a longtime favorite of mine (Scream 4 FOREVER), plays Alex’s scoundrel of a sibling who recognizes just how loathsome his family truly is, and finds himself conflicted over doing what’s right and doing what’s right for the Le Domas family throughout the film. Henry Czerny and Andie MacDowell portrays Alex’s parents here, and they’re both equally great as well. We also get some lively and engrossing supportive performances from Melanie Scrofano, Kristian Bruun and Elyse Levesque in Ready or Not too, but it’s Nicky Guadagni’s character Aunt Helene who nearly steals the whole damn show, with her Ursula meets Cruella de Ville appearance and steely resolve that has no patience for trivialities (she also wields a battle axe throughout most of the film, and it’s equal parts horrifying and hilarious).
Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention O’Brien’s performance as Alex as well. Initially, there isn’t a lot for his character to do other than look worried about his new wife; but it’s in the film’s second half where Alex finds himself conflicted, by both his ties to Grace and to the other members of his family, and that’s when O’Brien really gets the opportunity to shine in Ready or Not.
I don’t want to say too much more about the film itself because I feel like my experiences with it were heightened by the fact that I only knew what to expect from what I saw in the trailer, and I’d like to preserve that for you guys. But as a whole, Ready or Not is undoubtedly one of the most confidently and ingeniously crafted genre films of 2019 that delivers up a true crowd-pleasing experience to boot. Between its stunning location that adds a sense of high class gravitas to the project (that perfectly clashes with the behaviors of the upstanding Le Domas tribe), an array of memorable characters who all get their moment to shine, and it’s wildly unpredictable story that will keep you guessing until the very end, Ready or Not is an exhilarating and tension-fueled horror comedy that consistently defied every expectation I had going into it.
Movie Score: 5/5