Ready or Not (2019)
A slick, sly & subversive delight that’s refreshingly original, riotously fun & ridiculously entertaining from the first frame to the last, Ready or Not is one of the best surprises to surface in cinemas this year. Featuring a preposterous premise yet implementing it with such flair & finesse that you can’t help but be impressed by it, this wild & wicked horror-comedy is all the more bolstered by a star-making turn from Samara Weaving, and does everything right to earn its spot amongst the most enjoyable examples of its genre.
The story follows a young bride who becomes the newest member of her husband’s rich & eccentric family he has been estranged from for years. The family’s enormous wealth comes from their sovereignty over the board game industry. However, they believe that their fortunes will remain in tact as long as they honour the generations-long custom of hosting a game on the wedding night with each new addition to the family. To become a full-fledged member, our bride agrees to participate but soon learns that the game is far more sinister than she anticipated.
Directed by the collective trio of filmmakers known as Radio Silence, Ready or Not opens with a prologue that forewarns the audience of the madness that lies ahead. The set-up is quick, the fundamentals are illustrated with clarity, and once the main story kicks in, the directors steadily up the ante, cleverly balance the extreme with the grounded, and make sure that the cinematic ride isn’t just tense & thrilling but also fun & amusing throughout its runtime. Add to that, the delicately sprinkled social commentary further enriches the narrative & elevates the viewing experience.
Apart from the intelligently scripted screenplay, this gnarly survival horror also benefits from the first-rate execution of its technical aspects, most impressive of all being its aptly processed colour grading that encapsulates the frames with a dark & delirious ambience, which in effect makes the sumptuously decorated Le Domas mansion a fitting ground for the massacre that unfurls. While the film does not hold back when it comes to violence & gore, it never steps over the line to become repulsive and often neutralises the unsettling terror with comical scenarios & situations that almost always surface in the next scene.
Also notable is the board game aesthetic the film employs and references throughout the story. Editing is another highlight, making sure every moment is relevant to the plot, and paces the film so briskly & smoothly that its 95 minutes runtime simply flies by. Music by Tyler Bates heightens the tension to alarming levels with its menacing & pulsating tracks and keeps the viewers alert & engrossed by never allowing them a chance to settle down. Set decoration & costume design deserve a mention as well, for the former aspect instils an ominous aura on screen while the latter reflects the progression of the bride’s attitude through the changes her wedding dress undergoes.
Coming to the performances, Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien, Henry Czerny & Andie MacDowell make up the ensemble along with couple more additions but the real show-stealer is Weaving who renders her character’s overwhelming emotions with such precision & authenticity that the young Aussie actress is nothing less than a revelation in the role. She carries the entire film on her shoulders, plus it is nigh impossible to not root for her when her wedding night goes awry and turns into a fight for survival. The rest of the cast plays the Le Domas family members brilliantly, and brings up their idiosyncratic side in a responsible fashion. But Weaving’s performance easily overshadows the rest of the inputs.
On an overall scale, Ready or Not is an ingeniously directed, smartly scripted, gorgeously photographed, skilfully edited, swiftly paced, expertly scored & outstandingly performed horror-comedy that’s wild, rambunctious & endlessly captivating. Deftly merging horror, humour & cultural critique into one sharp, stylish & scintillating delight that scores high on all fronts, this vicious, vivid & vivacious combination of You’re Next & Get Out fares much better than other similar examples, and is an absolute blast that makes the most of its available resources to finish as an unabashedly savage & energetic extravaganza that is destined to garner a strong cult following in the years to come. One of the best films of the year, this indie is horror-comedy at its most boisterous. Strongly recommended.