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Ready or Not [Frightfest 2019 Review]

Samara Weaving continues her career of kicking ass while looking unbelievably gorgeous with her lively latest movie Ready or Not, the story of the toughest bride having the worst wedding day since Kill Bill. Boasting a high caliber cast including everyone’s O.C. boyfriend Adam Brody and the legendary Andie MacDowell, the film takes hard swings at class privilege, the 1 percent, and bad men, while never straying from being a total blast.

Weaving is Grace, who’s marrying the man of her dreams at his family’s palatial estate in a stunning wedding dress that all women will enjoy being completely destroyed over the following 90 minutes (there were 17 different dresses for the shoot, in varying stages of decay). After they’ve said their “I do”s the family, whose wealth comes, hilariously, from their board gaming empire, gathers for a rousing game of, well, whatever is chosen by the bride.

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Grace, unfortunately, picks the worst game of all: hide and seek. After joking around about it a bit, she finds a place to hide only for her new hubby to reveal that, actually, she’s going to be caught and killed for real before the night is out. Rather than being outright murdered, however, Grace is to be sacrificed as part of an ancient satanic ritual that keeps the family alive and comfortable within their considerable means. Rich people, eh?

Ready or Not has its tongue lodged very firmly in its cheek. The cast, all of whom are having a wild time, brandish old-timey weapons like crossbows only to find they have to search YouTube tutorials to figure out how to use them (this joke crops up again when one of them searches whether satanic pacts are real, and is no less funny for being used twice). They may be out for blood, but they’re completely inept, which gives Grace the upper hand, at least for a while.

After tearing the bottom off her dress so she can run faster and throwing on a pair of battered high-tops, grabbing a shotgun and strapping the ammo around her chest, thus becoming our Halloween costume inspo forevermore, Grace sets about trying to evade capture while accidentally and then not-so-accidentally offing her new in-laws. She’s an ex foster kid, so Grace is used to fending for herself, but the young woman is also in desperate need of a family, so she isn’t some kind of untouchable superwoman either.

Weaving was intent on making the character strong but not infallible. The ammo she grabs, for example, is only for show, and she finds herself in trouble when the time comes to silently load it into the gun. Grace’s new husband shows up to try to save her but disappears again nearly as quick, further emphasizing that the only person she can really rely on is herself. Much of the fun of the movie comes from watching her continue to survive, to everyone’s utter disbelief.

When the time comes to punch a bratty child, though, she doesn’t hesitate (unlike Satanic Panic‘s Sam, who apologizes immediately after doing so). Grace is no wallflower. She calls for help and gets increasingly frustrated when none is forthcoming because, again, this lower class lady isn’t really part of the fold, causing Grace to exclaim “F*****g rich people!” The movie is darkly funny, most often at the expense of its snooty rich family of wannabe executioners.

It’s also just genuinely funny, which makes how it’s being marketed on my side of the pond somewhat confusing (ads in the U.K. and Ireland are selling Ready or Not as a You’re Next-style fright fest — it’s not that, but it’s something more interesting entirely). Brody gets most of the best lines, delivering the kind of expertly deadpan performance he can do in his sleep but with a notable hint of softness as the only person in the family who feels bad for Grace.

One of the movie’s key moments finds him telling her “the rich really are different” as a means to explain the ludicrous situation she’s found herself in, but it’s also a comment on how the 1 percent live outside of societal norms. The rules don’t apply to them to the extent they can force this innocent woman to play their game and risk her life just for their own means. It’s a heavy-handed metaphor, sure, but it rings scarily true, particularly nowadays with Agent Orange’s finger lingering on the nuclear button.

Ready or Not might not be the scariest movie of the year, but it boasts some hugely inventive kills — including one with a dumb waiter that’s stomach-churning in its intensity — and gallons of the red stuff, some of which splashes on the camera during a bloody payoff in the rousing, breakneck-paced final act. The purposely dark cinematography suggests this is meant as a razor-sharp satire and a compelling horror story and, crucially, it does work as both.

See Also: Ghost Killers vs Bloody Mary [Frightfest 2019 Review]

Ready or Not further cements its status as a must-watch of 2019 by effortlessly sticking the landing ​and departing with a killer final line that Weaving herself had to get used to because it’s so ballsy. Fun, funny, gory, and with enough twists and turns to keep us on our toes, this is the definition of a bloody blast that once again cements Weaving as one of the finest, and coolest, actresses working ​in horror ​today. ​Long may her reign of terror continue (yes, even if it includes The Babysitter 2).


Director(s): Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
Writer(s): Guy Busick, Ryan Murphy
Stars: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Andie MacDowell, Mark O’Brien
Release date: 21 August 2019 (USA), 27 September 2019 (UK and Ireland)
Studio/Production Company: Mythology Entertainment
Language: English
Run Time: 95 minutes

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Written by Joey Keogh
Slasher fanatic Joey Keogh has been writing since she could hold a pen, and watching horror movies even longer. Aside from making a little home for herself at Wicked Horror, Joey also writes for Birth.Movies.Death, The List, and Vague Visages among others. Her actual home boasts Halloween decorations all year round. Hello to Jason Isaacs.
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