READY OR NOT Review
Every once in a while, there comes a gem in the slasher genre. For every Truth or Dare, The Purge or Ma, there is a Happy Death Day or The Cabin in the Woods that breathes new life. A gloriously self-aware slasher that doesn’t take itself too seriously and instead opts for pure entertainment. Enter Ready or Not, one of the surprises and bloody entertaining films of the year.
Ready or Not is a game of hide and seek gone wrong. Grace (Weaving) is marrying into a wealthy, games tycoon family and on the night of her wedding she must undergo an initiation into the family. Draw a random card with the name of a game and win the game. She draws the Hide and Seek card and so must hide until dawn. Unbeknownst to her, the family are trying to kill her. Let the games begin.
The stand out of the film is Samara Weaving who balances darkly comedic moments, suspense and dry one-liners with the poise of a natural Scream Queen. Her character is developed enough that Weaving can deliver that performance, and written well enough to be an instant icon of slasher leading ladies. She subverts the tropes while donning a visual middle finger of patriarchal beauty standards with a torn wedding dress and aged sneakers; she breaks free of the mould she’s been put in. She, like the movie, is not just a pretty face.
The production design of the film as well elicits a macabre version of Cluedo (aka Clue) with a grand mansion, warmly lit that the audiences become familiar with overtime. The costuming as well is memorable, besides Weaving’s aforementioned bridal attire, with every character wearing lavish, almost period era clothing. This intentionally ties into the film’s subtle message of the disconnect between regular people and the wealthy. The family are desperate and remorseless as they hunt down Grace, since money and power is all that matters to them; even when family gets in the way of that, they do not hesitate. Not as overt as Get Out’s commentary, but present none the less.
Writers Ryan Murphy and Guy Busick, know how to handle the story well and not to over stay their welcome. The movie is a brisk hour-and-a-half long that doesn’t waste time on backstory or repetitive set up and focuses on gory, nail-biting scenes. The film may not have a lasting impact in terms of scares, but it delivers memorable sequences that either end with a sigh of relief or a nervous laughter.
The rest of the cast work well, but pale compared to Weaving. Honourable mentions to Nicky Guadagni who plays the matriarch of the family and glares her way into Grace’s (and the audience’s) heart, with a glint a cheekiness in her eyes. There are also some twists in the final stages of the film that come from nowhere that don’t feel earned or fitting with certain characterisations, but can be forgiven as it leads to one of the funniest punchline endings of the year.
Ready or Not is a simple premise delivered with care and passion, with the end result being one of the best cinema experiences of the year and the charismatic Samara Weaving who is a star in the making.