Someone, somewhere, in a script meeting once said “You know how everyone struggles to get on with their in-laws? Let’s make that film”. Of course, once they had gotten over the fact that Meet the Parents was a thing, Minutes Past Midnight writer Shawn Murphy and Stan Against Evil writers’ room regular Guy Busick put their heads together and came back with “Right, it’s definitely a comedy. But that’s too easy. Let’s also make it a bonkers horror movie too”. And so, Ready or Not was born.
Grace (Samara Weaving – Mayhem) is supposed to be enjoying her wedding day, it is supposed to be the happiest day of her life as she marries Alex (Mark O’Brien – Arrival) and is hopefully welcomed into the Le Domas family. Unfortunately for the blushing bride, the eccentric family that have made their fortune in board games have a tradition that could prove fatal for Grace on her wedding night.
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New members of the family not only have to go through the standard “are you just here for the money” nonsense to prove their worth, on their wedding night they must play a randomly selected game. When Grace unwittingly selects a round of Hide and Seek, she finds herself hiding for her life as her new in-laws treat their house as a Safari Park and start chasing the bride around the maze-like mansion in an attempt to kill her in a dark family ceremony before the sun comes up.
Ready or Not is a tough film to put into theatres. In a world that is filled with both comedies and horrors manufactured for the biggest box office numbers with the smallest amount of risk, putting in a film high on violence and gore, as well as laughs that are guaranteed to get chuckles from those with only the sickest sense of humour makes the film a struggle to sell to your average audience. Especially as it arrives in the UK this week with the rarely handed out 18 certificate. But that hasn’t stopped V/H/S segment directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillette from putting together one of the most unapologetically bananas comedy horrors for quite a few years.
Samara Weaving, whose scream queen career is in full flow at this point, is perfect as the bride who has to fight to survive the night in the Le Domas’ creepy family home, cementing her legacy in Horror and its sub-genres as not just a final girl, but one that can kick butt for the entire runtime, such is her badassedness. With Ready or Not, Weaving is the kickass, street smart, grown-up-on-her-own addition to the upper class family that, while this isn’t their first game of their brand of hide and seek, simply have no idea how to deal with her survival skills. This is where most of the film’s comedy comes from. A family of silver spoon chomping imbeciles chasing this – admittedly very lucky at times – badass around a house with ancient weaponry like Elmer Fudd chasing Bugs Bunny. It’s delightful to watch the sheer ineptitude on display from the murderous family.
The Le Domas family, consists of – amongst others – Alex’s mother and father (Groundhog Day’s Andie MacDowell and Mission Impossible’s Henry Czerny), his brother Daniel (Adam Brody – Jennifer’s Body) and crazy aunt Helene (Nicki Guadagni – Cube). Where Czerny and MacDowell get to be relatively stereotypical in their performances of the eccentric father who believes in the traditions wholeheartedly and the mother who once stood where Grace is now standing – minus the attempted murder – trying to reassure he new bride, Aunt Helene and brother Daniel are where the best performances lie in Grace’s opposing team.
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Guadagni’s Aunt Helen is a cold hearted bitch. She’s been boiling for years, and is ready to kill somebody, anybody. She’s always there with a scowl and a nasty remark and she’s absolutely hilarious in every moment she’s on screen. The angrier she gets, the funnier she is and it’s a joy to experience. Likewise, Brody’s part as the alcoholic brother who can’t quite tell where his loyalties lie is brilliant. With some perfect moments of drama that balance the near perfect comedic timing he has, make him easily the most interesting character to watch in the 95 minutes the film is rolling for.
Ready or Not is a dark comedy in the truest sense. There’s not much here in the way of lighthearted laughs, which at first sight will limit its audience a little. But what it lacks in lowest common denominator marketability, it more than makes up for with pitch perfect comedy, balanced with amazing scenes of gore that accompany some splendid kills. And it has the best scene of a kid being punched in the face you are likely to see this year!