Hopefully Trump does’t see Ready or Not

Film | by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Ready or Not
Wide Release
3 out of 5

There are few genre mashups harder to get right than horror-comedy. The sweet spot involves approaching the subject seriously, while allowing humour to seep through organically. Joe Dante’s Gremlins remains the gold standard: wacky displays of violence and Snow White appreciation mix seamlessly.

Ready or Not is remarkably successful at hitting its own sweet spot for such a modest movie. It’s yet another variation of The Most Dangerous Game with slightly less contempt for the ruling class. But the film benefits enormously from the spunky female hero and proudly cartoonish villains.

Hours after marrying into the blue-blooded Le Domas family, Grace (the excellent Samara Weaving) is thrust into a lethal game of hide-and-seek. Tradition orders the clan must hunt the newcomer, otherwise the forces responsible for the Le Domas’ prosperity may come to collect.

While the setup is simple, the execution is filled with smart decisions and flourishes — for no particular reason, the help seems straight out of a Robert Palmer video. Weaving is not necessarily a find for the horror crowd (see Ash vs Evil Dead, The Babysitter), but this is her coming-out party.

As the paterfamilias and main antagonist, Henry Czerny gets a meaty role he chews with gusto. The family itself is full of Canadians, including St. John’s actor Mark O’Brien as the hapless groom and Regina actor Elyse Levesque as a daughter-in-law happy to go along with the ritual.

Produced and directed by the collective Radio Silence (Southbound, Devil’s Due), Ready or Not is a considerable step up from their previous work. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, nor is it as provocative as Midsommar. It’s simply happy with demonstrating the rich will do anything to remain on their perch and delivering good, old-fashioned carnage.