Ready or Not

Ready or Not ★★★½

After their memorable segments in Southbound and the first V/H/S, this was Radio Silence's big breakout. It's a rollicking burst of popcorn horror comedy in which a newlywed orphan (Samara Weaving) finds herself under siege during her first night staying with the family of her perfect-seeming new husband (Mark O'Brien). She unfortunately marries the guy before finding out the Le Domases attribute their success in the board game business to a diabolical pact, and she's drawn the unlucky card that marks her as their next sacrifice to Satan. As Weaving tries to stay alive and make sense of a nonsensical situation, the clan scrambles to win a deadly game of Hide and Seek, and in her favor, the pampered richies are hilariously unprepared to commit murder.

Coming so late to Ready or Not, I was not expecting any astonishment. The setup looked suspiciously reminiscent of You're Next, the idea of modern millionaires literally gaming with underprivileged lives brought to mind Would You Rather and the "Satanic conspiracy twist" has recently maxed out its freshness for at least a good decade. The real surprises for me were all the good things stemming from the delivery rather than any novelty in the construction. There's an unflagging energy and a full-blooded commitment to the admittedly dodgy concept that manages to fill in or smooth over any holes you might notice. The zippy pace and normal running time do wonders to keep your attention from wandering. Weaving carries the movie with a crucial combination of wariness and warmth, although I wasn't crazy about how long the script restrains her from effectively striking back. As much as CG blood splatter continues to (and, I fear, will always) suck, it's only seriously intrusive here during the otherwise delightful finale, and RS compensates with a coupla queasy self-sacrificial injuries that would make the Castle Freak bellow in approval.

I'd put Ready or Not right up there with Happy Death Day as recent glossy horror comedies that could be equally enjoyed by deep genre nerds and their non-affiliated associates. It's fast, it's funny, it's violent, it's got a good attitude and it's a surefire way to blow off some steam.

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