Review: Ready or Not

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As Bobby Caldwell once sang, “what you won’t do, do for love”. But if what you’ll do for love entails being hunted down by your newly married husband’s family in a murderous game of hide and seek, then I’m sure most people would throw love out of the window. Such a scenario is exactly the premise of Ready or Not, a ridiculous yet wildly thrilling movie. Stay well away from the band Busted, because this is not a wedding you’ll be glad to crash.

Written by Guy Busick and directed by duo Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett (V/H/S, Southbound), Ready or Not follows a bride on her wedding night who is forced to play into her sinister new family’s traditional and bloody games night. The main strengths of the film come from its tongue-in-cheek tone, which is established in the opening shots, letting you know you’re in for a shocking rollercoaster of over-the-top gore and horror. Beats here can be seen to be inspired from films such as ‘You’re Next’ and ‘Hush’, which play on the fact that they understand how absurd their plots are. This tone is of great benefit to the movie as it means in the inevitable humorous moments, you are laughing with the film and not at it. However, this does not mean that the film is without its shocks and scares. There are strong moments of tension throughout which have you gripping your nails into your seat and holding your breath, heavily aided by the great lead performance from Samara Weaving (Three Billboards, The Babysitter), which bears the perfect balance of fear and exasperation. The surrounding cast help further to create this deranged world, delivering exaggerated performances which initially seem unnecessary, but only aid the tone as the plot unfolds. The gritty direction from Bettinelli-Olpin & Gillett also maintains the giant mansion that the film takes place in as ironically very claustrophobic and morbid, with many grainy close-up shots which keep the protagonist desperately trapped in various situations. 

The films major setbacks lie predominantly within its writing. Despite its original premise, the plot itself is very by-the-books and safe in its structure. This leads to many major plot points being very predictable almost from the start, meaning that many of the twists and shocking moments that lie ahead are far less powerful. As well as this, the film also falls prey to various horror movie clichés, such as the abnormal strength of the protagonist in key situations, and the countless Deus ex Machina scenarios littered throughout. There are also a few scenes where the film tries to deliver a narrative on the evils of the elite and privileged, but the dialogue is rather superficial and leads to no great conclusive message. 

Overall, whilst not based on entirely original content, Ready or Not is still a breath of fresh air from the countless other overblown horror movies coming out today, which try too hard (and fail) to scare you. The film avoids cheap jump scares and confusing plot lines, and instead opts for a blend of tense actions and all-too-gory kills. Saddle up, because this is most certainly a wedding you will object to.

Image Credit: Fox Searchlight