REVIEW: Ready or Not
Ready or Not is a movie that thinks its way cleverer than it is. Not “smarter” mind you. It’s nowhere near pretentious. Rather, Ready or Not is that friend who laughs at all their own jokes.
They come up with an idea that’s mediocre at best but present it like the most ingenious thing ever. This earnestness forces you into an uncomfortable place where you feel like you should laugh because they’re your friend, but you can’t laugh, because doing that would betray the very concept of good comedy.
In short, the movie is about a young woman marrying into a wealthy family. She and her husband are deeply in love and can’t wait to spend the rest of their lives together. The only catch is that the family has acquired all their wealth by making a deal with the devil. This pact occasionally requires newlywed sacrifice every time someone in the linage gets hitched, and unfortunately, it’s time to pay the piper.
The concept seems intriguing from the outset, but in the actual watching, Ready or Not becomes a slog of uninspired gory death scenes and half-baked classism commentary. Honestly, I found it sad. I could tell the filmmakers were patting themselves on the back every step of the way, “Oh jeepers, this one’s gonna be one heck of a twist” and it simply wasn’t a good movie.
It didn’t even have the bones to become a good movie.
The lead characters played by Samara Weaving and Adam Brody have almost nothing to them. We watch these strangers kiss. Weaving says something about how she had a decent experience in the foster care system but always wanted to have a loving family??? Brody looks guilty…and then it’s murder time.
They do grow over the course of the movie but with such uncertain beginnings I absolutely did not care at all. Like, who is this girl?! Who is this guy?
When I think of great horror performances I think of Jamie Lee Curtis in the original Halloween. She’s written to be so specific and real that it legitimizes everything around her. The same thing is done with Drew Barrymore in the opening scene of Scream, Jack Nicholson in The Shining, and Janet Leigh in Psycho. These films capture something specific, real, and raw, that leads into the uncertainty of the killer. Every metaphor, every suspenseful beat, it all sits on the linchpin of these characters being complex and interesting and easy to be intrigued by.
I did not get that with anyone in this film. Not Samara Weaving despite her best efforts, not Adam Brody in his 2 unremarkable scenes, and certainly not in the supporting cast full of horror tropes. It does not even have the bones to be good.
The visual design of the movie is really the only reason to go see this. It probably won’t blow your hair back or anything, but if you appreciate the small details of filmmaking, I think it justifies the $6 million budget.
The vague 40s throwback styling not only makes sense given the fact that the satanic stuff went down sometime around the Great Depression, but it contributes to the coldness of the narrative. Sharp edges, dim fabrics, warm colors, it’s sooooo pleasing to look at. A lot of other horror films go for these aesthetics but I think Ready or Not gets there authentically and stands out in a positive way.
The more cartoony aspects of the visual style, like Weaving’s dress/converse/antique shotgun combo, are SUCH A GOOD CHOICE. They ground the world firmly in 2019, heighten the comedy angle, and bring a surrealness that only the best horror-comedies can. Giant crossbows, sing song-y record players, hidden corridors *mwah* that’s my jam. If they leaned more into that wacky tone it probably would have rounded the story out better.
c'est la vie
Like I said before, this movie made me sad. They were trying so hard. The filmmakers wanted to make a point about the privilege of the rich but it was way too obvious to be effective. They were trying to bring a new angle to the horror-comedy genre but none of the characters mattered and every death had been done better in other movies. They wanted something that felt clever…and I’ll give them that to an extent.
But Ready or Not wasn’t clever enough.
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