Ready or Not

Bride and seek
Verdict: 
6/10 - Ready or Not has some fun moments, but is more of a mildly amusing game than a cult horror classic.
Release Date: 
Thursday, September 26, 2019
Written by: 

Ready or Not follows a newlywed who becomes hunted by her spouse's family as part of a twisted wedding night ritual.

6

Wedding days are supposed to be one of the happiest moments of a young couple's life.

However, in directing duo Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett's new horror-comedy Ready or Not, one young bride finds out her new family is intent on turning it into a nightmare.

Grace (Samara Weaving) is preparing to marry gaming heir Alex De Lomas (Mark O'Brien) at his extravagant family home.

For the less privileged Grace, her wedding day is an awkward one - as she struggles to fit in with Alex's bizarre and stand-offish family members, despite his mother Becky (Andie MacDowell) and her new husband's attempts to reassure her that after tying the knot she will be one of them.

Making things even more awkward is the fact that their big night is interrupted by the family's demand to take part in a big tradition - a game of chance in which the newest member must pick a card that dictates what they play.

After picking a 'Hide and Seek' card, Grace abides by the rules of the game.

Yet, it's soon clear that the family members have something slightly more invigorating in mind - as despite Alex's protests, they grab weapons, including shotguns, axes, and crossbows, to hunt out the bride and kill her as part of a demonic ritual they believe is the source of their wealth and power.

Really though, this isn't so much a plot as a set-up. Because Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett are not aiming for dramatic tension, but rather to give themselves a sandbox to explore gory set-pieces as Grace attempts to escape her in-laws from hell. 

It also provides a peg to hang writers Guy Busick and R. Christopher Murphy's satirical intentions on.

 

Ready or Not is effectively an extended visual metaphor for the idea that the 'one per cent' would happily disembowel anyone to keep their status and wealth.

It's a theme that is signposted by plenty of one-liners too, just in case you'd been asleep since before the 2008 financial crisis and didn't quite get the hint that greed is now very much out of vogue.

The cast, which also includes Adam Brody, Henry Czerny, and a deliciously deadpan Nicky Guadagni are game, and the idea has some merits.

However, as a horror-comedy Ready or Not is neither funny or scary enough, and the satire feels vaguely hollow and smug - more a student protest than a genuinely hilarious study of wealth's excesses.

Tonally, the film also goes through strange shifts between well-shot scenes showing a more subtle comedy of manners, and the schlocky B-movie gore it descends into at times.

Yet, the real problem is fairly simple. Ready or Not commits the sin of many a lesser genre movie - forgetting that the best comedy or horror still stems from caring about well-crafted characters.

Here, it feels like they really are just pieces to move around on a gaming board to get us to the next comic blood spatter.

That's not to say the film is a total miss. Cleverly marketed, and with its tongue firmly in its cheek (before it's likely severed by a crossbow bolt), there is enough amusing and thrilling moments to make its 95-minute runtime pass without too much boredom.

But there's not enough meat below the surface to satisfy, especially when everything is drawn together into an absurd, and strangely predictable, finale.

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