Landon Roberts, Contributing Writer
The horror comedy genre is prime real estate for cult films. The newest entry in this genre, “Ready or Not,” has found itself among the greats.
While films like “Shaun of The Dead” and “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” deconstruct the horror genre with more whit, “Ready or Not,” written by Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy, focuses on finding humor within its own ritualistic world building.
The Le Domas family finds wealth in their board game company thanks to the handiwork of the devil himself. To retain this deal with the devil, the family must sacrifice a new family member through a ritualistic game of hide-and-seek.
However, the intended victim, Grace, played by Samara Weaving, makes this game harder than the family anticipated.
While the premise might sound ridiculous, the film embraces its absurdity and finds footing by poking fun at itself. Most of this is due to Weaving’s portrayal of Grace. Her lack of awareness leads to some great, much-appreciated moments of dramatic irony.
Weaving isn’t the only one who has laugh-out-loud moments. The idiotic family’s slapstick humor results in fantasticly timed reaction shots that distract from the true body horror being shown. This makes the movie a fun romp that is never too serious.
Even if the film leans heavily into comedy, the horror is still handled incredibly well.
Weaving’s powerhouse performance makes this possible. The guttural screams and anxious trembles are so perfectly executed that shivers might run down your spine. Her frenetic energy throughout the film is contagious, resulting in many edge-of-your-seat moments. This entire performance has put Weaving in the scream queen hall of fame.
None of this could have been achieved without the realistic body horror. The close-ups of incredibly detailed gore can be sickening at times, but it’s hard not to admire the work of the special effects team.
A scene involving a hand and a nail still makes me squirm every time I think about it. I’m still wondering how they managed that shot.
The horror and comedy are perfectly executed. But the film’s family drama drags it down in many scenes.
The dialogue during these scenes relies too much on exposition and cheese. While these moments help build the world, the script’s handling of their delivery is clumsy and boring. Most of these scenes derail the action-packed thriller, grinding it to a halt to explain the importance of the moment we just witnessed.
The score doesn’t help either. The boring melodramatic strings and drums are so campy that it’s hard to take seriously anything the actors say. Even during the more intense scenes, the score dips too heavily into cheese and camp, reminding me of soap operas such as “Days of Our Lives.”
Despite the slow moments of exposition and cheesy score, “Ready or Not” delivers a fun thriller with a powerhouse performance and an interesting, ritualistic world at its core.