Quick Hit: Horror comedy that understands just what it is, with a wink and a slash.
Guys, if you’ve read the site for very long, or you’ve talked to me, at all, you’ll know that horror comedies are among my favorite things in the genre. I mean, when we did our top five horror movies a couple years ago, horror comedies were littered throughout the top spots. But a good horror comedy is actually really hard to make, because you have to understand the correct moments to interject the tension in scenes with jokes. Too much one way or the other, or without an understanding of what it does to the plot, can really tank any narrative momentum that a film has built. That’s why when a film comes along like Ready or Not, I shout it from the rooftops because it does so many things so obviously right.
Grace (Samara Weaving) seems to have found the perfect marriage with Alex (Mark O’Brien). Alex has a huge family, known as the Le Domas family, and he’s from old money that was generated as part of a gaming dynasty (think if Hasbro had developed into sports teams and video games more quickly). Is some of the family a little… off? Sure, but even those that seem to have darkness, like Daniel, Alex’s brother (Adam Brody), manage to have their own charms. And so when Alex says that the family has a strange tradition that involves playing a game at midnight after the marriage, she agrees. After all, when you’re someone that was shunted from foster home to foster home, you don’t have much to say about family traditions. When the family reacts physically to the pull of “Hide and Seek”, something changes – and that’s when Ready or Not really hits its stride.
I loved this movie from start to finish. The set-up to the film is smooth and the rules are established fairly quickly. The comedy is nearly always at the expense of the bumbling Le Domas clan – who is a bit rusty after not having done this in so many years. The callousness they display towards the “help” is always a bit tongue-in-cheek (and may be hiding some satire about the “haves and have-nots”), but generates laughs all the same. And the kills – the bits of gore sprinkled throughout the film, leading up to the absolutely fantastic finish are *chef’s kiss*.
Weaving takes this role and runs with it. Grace could have been played as a stand-in for the Bride in Kill-Bill, and while she reflects that, she also reflects a character that is self-aware about both her fate and her current circumstances. It also shows the near immediate transformation from victim to final girl, and she manages to bring that across palatably but effortlessly. The part that is most evident on re-watches (which, if I’m honest, I’ve watched this like 5 times at the point of this review) is just how much religious imagery exists throughout the movie. I mean, Mr. Le Baile feels like a very obvious stand-in for the devil right? A literal deal with the devil that ends up cursing your whole family in order to have a sacrifice to him whenever he deems it necessary? A woman who literally nails through her own hand?? Who at the end is covered in the blood of the sacrificed? I can’t be the only one seeing this right?
Throw in some other stand-out performances by side characters and there is really nothing that detracts from this movie. I think my personal favorite side character is played by Adrian Brody (who, coincidentally, I just saw in part of my Smallville rewatch!!). As Daniel he manages to bring through the pain that living in a family like this, where each incredibly happy event could be tainted at any moment by the need to hunt and kill a new member of the family. He also manages to deliver some really hilarious lines through a veil of sarcasm that is tangible in everything he does. And yet, it also speaks to some of what the movie talks about – the power of family to make you do what you didn’t think was possible. Sometimes, we see the happy evidence of this in people that go through extraordinary experiences and come through the other side. But Ready or Not is willing to paint the picture of what happens to good people that have to go against their families traditions and wishes. That’s a pretty brave horror comedy, in my books.
I’m giving this one an “A+”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"