Movie Review: Samara Weaving Gives 'Ready or Not' A Lot

Ready or Not Henry Czerny Tony Le Domas Hanneke Talbot Clara Celine Tsai Tina Daniela Barbosa Dora Samara Weaving Grace Le Domas Elyse Levesque Charity Le Doma Nicky Guadagni Helene Le Domas John Ralston Stevens Mark O'Brien Alex Le Domas
“Ready or Not,” here comes full-blown horror! This viewer was not prepared for the gorefest to come before watching this seeming thriller about a game gone horribly awry for a new bride (Samara Weaving). It is the give-and-take of avoiding in-depth research. It can provide a warning at the expense of giving away the plot.

The movie opens with a disturbing glimpse of what is to come. “Ready or Not” then fast forwards in time to an event unfolding years later in the same disturbingly decorated mansion. A couple is about to get married as the groom sweats an unsettling prospect. What is it? The wedding goes off without a hitch, and that is when a bomb gets dropped.

Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien) tells his radiant bride, Grace (Samara Weaving), that it is a tradition in his family for a new member to play a game with the in-laws. The family’s fortune is primarily attributed to having been made off of board games. While Grace thinks it is weird, she yearns for her new in-laws’ acceptance so much that she readily agrees.

From here, “Ready or Not” pushes its characters off a surrealistic precipice that it never recovers from. Part of it can be ascribed to milk and Coke syndrome. The sense you get when you are expecting to drink a Coke and get milk instead. It is not that the milk is bad. You are just so ill-prepared for it that it tastes…unwelcome to the tongue.

Thus, recontextualizing the entire experience. “Ready or Not” is not the action thriller that this viewer expected it to be. It is a black-as-night comedy that features gruesome violence as the punchline. Suffice it to say, it is not this viewer’s cup of genre tea. I was hoping for something along the lines of the standout suspense flick, “You’re Next.”

It is also billed as a comedy, and yet it easily doubles as a straight-up thriller with dark comedic flourishes from its character’s dialogue. “Ready or Not” captures some laughs thanks to “Revenge” star Henry Czerny’s scene-stealing performance as the La Domas’ patriarch. Otherwise, there is nothing on the scale of “Duplex” to tip its hand.

“Ready or Not” has a fantastic lead in Samara Weaving, whose performance heightens the emotional stakes at play. Weaving’s screen energy is intense, and she makes you feel for Grace in a brief period. Unfortunately, her character is never allowed to really develop. Weaving seizes every inch of the script, though, and creates something star-making in the process.

Given Samara Weaving's on-screen tenacity, I kept waiting/hoping for Grace to show off her roots as a survivor and begin kicking tail and taking names. Sadly, that does not come together. To be fair, not every movie needs to have its lead react that way, and yet “Ready or Not” would have personally benefited from it. A survival film with copious amounts of gore needs something positive to counterbalance its mayhem.

Adam Brody’s nuanced performance brings a sense of humanity to the proceedings it would not possess. “Ready or Not” really picks up whenever he and Samara Weaving share the screen. There is something that peeks out there, which really could have been something. A kind of connection you cannot force between actors, which boosts a film’s quality.

“Ready or Not” needs a more defined edge to help balance its bedlam. That said, brilliant “Yellowstone” composer Brian Taylor provides another sensational soundtrack for “Ready or Not,” which helps keep the movie’s suspense turned up. There are moments of sheer musical genius that make your ears tingle. All told, the soundtrack, Samara Weaving, and Adam Brody prove to be the movie's silver linings.

Rating: 5.5/10

“Ready or Not” is currently available for rent on Amazon Prime Video. There are tons of other options streaming for Prime members.

[Featured Image by Fox Searchlight Pictures]