Review: ‘Ready or Not’ is a bloody good time

By George Haerle

For Grays Harbor News Group

Horror-comedy “Ready or Not” comes out of left field as hard as possible, with an absolutely wacky premise that ends up being as riotously fun as it is cartoonishly violent.

Before I proceed, I will warn that this review contains some mild spoilers in describing several characters and the central plot to the film. However, I feel that a little more depth to the seemingly simplistic plot shown in the trailers could pique your interest just a bit more, as this is a movie that is quite enjoyable and worth seeing on a big screen — that is, if you enjoy horror-comedy.

When a bride (Samara Weaving) is forced to play a sinister game on her wedding night by her in-laws, she discovers the malevolent side of her new family and the source of their unimaginable wealth. Weaving gives a great range to Grace, as she goes from a blushing new bride with great personality and witty humor to a terrified but capable survivor who get quickly fed up with Satan-worshipping rich people. She sells sweet, funny, terrified, betrayed, angry, vengeful and stark-raving mad throughout in a performance that is just fierce.

The supporting cast is all good, each delivering great character performances as the messed up, dysfunctional Le Domas family. From a coked-out spunky sister-in-law (Melanie Scrofano) to the groom’s creepy, bloodthirsty, ax-wielding aunt (Nicky Guadagni), each of the several family members is a comedically horrible person. They’re like characters from a horror-themed game of Clue.

It’s the interactions among the family members that sell the comedic side of the film. While their plans for Grace take a dark and homicidal turn, this cast of antagonists foils half of their own attempts through their squabbling and dysfunction.

But a fascinating subtext of the film is a scathing critique of the obscenely rich. The Le Domas family is portrayed as unimaginably wealthy, and there are several moments that define the extreme attachment they have to their wealth — and how each justifies their dark beliefs and rituals to keep it. By the time the third act wraps, the audience will hate them just as much for their greed as they do for the hell they put Grace through.

While “Ready or Not” leans toward comedy just a bit more than horror, the creepy family mansion and a couple of great set pieces set the mood and atmosphere just right. Even the woods surrounding the estate are eerie and visually perfect. And while there aren’t any jump scares or lurking creatures in the film, the few tension-building scenes and gruesome encounters are incredibly effective and will make you cringe and squirm in your seat.

If there is one problem with the film, it’s that there are several moments where it becomes just a bit predictable after the entire premise is fleshed out in the first act. But this doesn’t detract from the laugh-out-loud black comedy and its great moments of creepiness.

This is not the best horror film of the year, but it is a continuation of the renaissance I believe we have seen in the genre and its subgenre of horror-comedy. It’s also a very brisk 95 or so minutes with credits, paced perfectly and full of dark fun throughout.

I recommend giving this movie a shot on the big screen; even a matinee will do. It’s devilishly fun and original, and can even make a great date night film (my wife and I had a total blast). It will delight horror fans as well as general audiences. It’s also a great primer, or maybe even a double feature, with “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.”

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“Ready or Not” is currently playing at the Riverside Cinemas, 1017 S. Boone St. in Aberdeen.

George Haerle holds a bachelor’s degree in creative writing for media and lives in Cosmopolis.

Fox Searchlight                                Grace (Samara Weaving) unwittingly picks an unlucky card in “Ready or Not.”

Fox Searchlight Grace (Samara Weaving) unwittingly picks an unlucky card in “Ready or Not.”