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The Bride Wore Red: A Review Of 'Ready Or Not'

With a reverent salute to films such as ‘Carrie,’ this throwback embraces its blood, gore, and splatter references, and adds a fresh dimension of very dark comedy and social commentary

Will someone please explain to me why a film like The Hunt gets yanked out of US distribution, but no one complains about Ready or Not? Sight unseen, Republican America was up in arms over a satire described as “the rich hunting the poor for sport”; but the funny thing is that Ready or Not also takes potshots at the entitled rich, but by doing so within the confines of one privileged family, and gets away with “bloody murder.” And horror/thriller fans can be thankful that RoN didn’t catch the eye and ire of the self-proclaimed Guardians of Hollywood Excess.

Kristian Bruun, Melanie Scrofano, Andie MacDowell, Henry Czerny, Nicky Guadagni, Adam Brody, and Elyse Levesque | Fox Searchlight

The premise revolves around Grace (Samara Weaving), who was raised in foster homes, about to be married to Alex LeDomas (Mark O’Brien), heir to an insanely rich family that built its fortune on playing cards and games—and this is traced back all the way to the Civil War. Brought to the LeDomas stately mansion, we’re immediately forewarned that all may not be well, as Alex refers to his family as insane. And what a bunch of eccentric oddballs they turn out to be. You’ll love the old aunt of Alex who does nothing at the start of the wedding ceremonies but stare malevolently at Grace. Either a gold-digger, or as just not good enough, it’s clear to discern what the family thinks of her. 

It’s after the nuptials that things really go downhill for Grace as she’s informed that a family ritual any new aspiring member of the family must submit to, is to pick a card from a box and play the game written on the card picked. Grace picks hide-and-seek; but it’s not the child’s game that ensues, but a very life-threatening and bloody one, as the family’s very survival depends on them finding, capturing, and making a ritual sacrifice of Grace.

Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, the film soon turns into vignettes of gore, splatter, and visceral horrors. Far from being the innocent led to slaughter, Grace refuses to be labeled a victim, and fights back ferociously, even with the odds against her. The shafts of humor and gallows humor similarly pile up, as the film totally embraces this mingling of comedy and gory action. In fact, this is the winning formula that had audiences applauding the film, as it doesn’t play itself out as a straight horror thriller, but diabolically, wants us to laugh uneasily along the way.

Samara Weaving plays Grace | Fox Searchlight

As for Samara Weaving, she’s the latest of Hollywood Margot Robbie clones. She’s been typecast in these horror thriller films—The Babysitter and Mayhem are her previous film outings; but hopefully, with the central role she handles with aplomb here, we’ll soon hear more from her. Coincidentally, like Robbie, Samara hails from Australia—and is the niece of Hugo Weaving.

In a week when the new Tarantino and the new anime film of Shinkai are also being released, Ready or Not may have a hard time finding its audience. And that would be a shame. The three are very different genres, but they’re all strong entries in their particular genres. RoN is pure popcorn; there’s nothing really new with the premise or storyline, but it’s executed smartly enough, and with an enthusiasm that works in its favor.

Ready or Not opens in theaters nationwide on August 28.


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