Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Ready or Not - Review

Horror and comedy always wind up meeting from time to time, more so than any other two major genres at least. To be fair, they do share some similar characteristics. They rely almost entirely on timing and build up to effectively get a reaction from the audience, the premises or setups are often key to the entire affair working, and they remain pigeon-holed by people constantly trapped in what the genre should be rather than what it actually can do. That’s not even mentioning the complete lack of respect they receive from awards bodies either. The two genres are intertwined so often because they work so well together, and Ready or Not is the newest example of what can happen when horror and comedy are perfectly utilized.

Grace (Samara Weaving) couldn't be happier after she marries the man of her dreams at his family's luxurious estate. There's just one catch -- she must now hide from midnight until dawn while her new in-laws hunt her with guns, crossbows and other weapons.

Ready or Not feels like a brain child of someone who saw You’re Next and The Cabin in the Woods and combined them into a mishmash of gory fun. The film is a textbook example of a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It knows that it’s silly at its core and the filmmakers completely play into this, whether it be through dialogue or visuals, and the end result winds up being this well executed balancing act of tension and humor.

The tone is what will sell this film to many, as the story doesn’t do a whole lot of heavy lifting here. Sure, the lore and history that’s established through some slightly clunky exposition is interesting enough, but it never explores any of that outside of it being the baseline reasoning for the twisted game of hide and seek. The film moves on, and expects the audience to as well, so it can get to the tense moments that everyone likely came for.

With all this being said, about tone selling a film to the masses, still likely falls flat without someone to root for at the center of it all. Thankfully, Samara Weaving is just that. Equal parts charming, funny, and all around likable, Weaving slides into this bewildered but scrappy role incredibly well. Other performances in the film are solid, the whole cast is frankly top notch, but a majority of the film rests on her shoulders as she hides or runs from the new in-laws trying to tear her limb from limb.

And boy, do they try to tear her up. There are more brutal horror films out there, usually ones that don’t lean as heavily on comedy as Ready or Not, but this film doesn’t hold back either. The use of some older weapons opens the door, or closes it one instance, to some creativity and utter ridiculousness. It also makes the endeavor all the more difficult for the family, even if a series of coincidences and contrivances allows Grace to escape more than once, even delving into a repetitive pattern as the film wraps up.

Ready or Not takes what so many love about the combination of horror and comedy and delivers it with confidence and awareness that few films can even muster, let alone execute this well. Samara Weaving is a star in the making, a likable lead that never feels helpless in spite of the overwhelming odds stacked against her in this manufactured madness of a game. For once, a horror film is not set up to become a franchise, and yet, I would watch ten more movies of Samara Weaving taking on rich lunatics with a knack for twisted board game related deals with the devil.

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