Ready Or Not Review

Who doesn’t love a good wedding?

Whether you’re involved in a close friends’ ceremony, making up the numbers of a not so close relatives’ or – god forbid – taking part in your own, weddings can always be relied on for heated arguments, drunken chaos, painful memories and, if you’re in my family, all of the above.

One thing the bride and groom can always rely upon though is being welcomed into a new family with open arms… either that or fake friendliness, some awkward glances and a few scowls.

Still, at least your in-laws won’t be as bad as Grace’s in Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s pitch-black comedy-horror Ready Or Not.

Grace is getting married to her ideal groom at his family’s imposing estate, bought from the fortune they’ve made out of board games – but what our heroine doesn’t know is that her in-laws have a special game-night tradition for anyone marrying into their family… hunting them down and killing them before the night is through.

Comedy horrors can be a tough nut to crack and, as a self-confessed fanboy, the term often makes me wince.

The good ones are really good, think Evil Dead 2, Tremors, Braindead, Cabin in the Woods and Shaun of the Dead. But the bad ones can be awful, as anyone who’s seen Lesbian Vampire Killers would not doubt attest to.

Thankfully, Ready or Not falls firmly in the former category.

Having caused quite a stir at London’s latest Frightfest film festival, Ready or Not’s simple premise takes a game of hide and uses this to create a platform for some wonderful dark comedy – gamely carried out by a fantastic group of characters.

Samara Weaving as Grace is a horror star in the making, and her turn as the hunted bride is full of attitude, sarcasm and spirit.

While the ensemble cast aren’t exactly Hollywood A-listers, they’re terrifically played. Adam Brody is excellent as the darkly depressed and battle-weary Daniel, who’s dry sarcasm is a high point throughout, and it was nice to see Andie McDowell back in her natural habitat of a wedding as the quintessential evil step-mother.  

Well-timed visual and verbal jokes relentlessly hit their marks, at times making you feel like you’re watching an old Abbot and Costello comedy-horror, at others reminding you of an early Peter Jackson splatter flick, especially during the gore-soaked final third.

The playful tonal shifts in music during the cat and mouse game and gothic sets make Ready or Not look better than its budget, and it’s always nice to see a film stick to a an hour and a half.

Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett lean more on comedy more than horror and they don’t really deliver in terms of scares. But they build an enticing premise, couple this with a satirical take on our class divide and serve up plenty of gory treats for the eyes.  

But was Ready or Not enough to restore my faith in comedy-horror? I’m afraid it’s still too soon to say – but it’s definitely turned me off of weddings… again.

Andrew Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

September 2019