For whom the wedding bells toll
After some strong but smallish roles in Ash vs Evil Dead and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Samara Weaving gets a lead role and totally kills it in Ready or Not.
As Grace, a newlywed who has one of the worst wedding days in cinema history—right up there with Uma Thurman in Kill Bill—Samara is so good it makes you wonder how she hasn’t had more big starring roles in the 11 years she’s been acting. She commands the screen with a fierce, comedic energy that helps make Ready or Not a memorable, if predictable, horror/thriller show.
Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, and written by Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy, the movie is a scathing indictment of the rich and the institution of marriage, all in good fun, of course.
When we meet Grace (Weaving, niece of Hugo), she’s about to marry Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien), and enter into a very rich family. That family, led by Tony (Henry Czerny) and Becky (Andie MacDowell), has built its empire upon board games and sports teams, so their requirement that Grace play a game with them on her wedding night, while wacky, does make a little sense. As part of tradition, Grace must draw a card from a mystery box and determine which game she must play with her new in-laws. The card she draws: Hide and Seek. As it turns out, she would’ve been much better off drawing chess or checkers.
Armed with historic weapons and a bewilderingly crazed purpose, the Le Domas family, which includes seemingly grounded brother Daniel (Adam Brody)and crazily bitter Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni) are determined to find and kill Grace by dawn. Hey, tradition is tradition, and Grace has got to go. Unfortunately for them, Grace is not going to go easy like a typical horror film whimpering victim. She’s got a lot of fight in her, and a lot more than one person will be dying on this particular wedding night.
There have been plenty of movies where a family isn’t all that happy about the new bride trying to enter their lives, but this one has matriarchs and patriarchs wielding crossbows. Czerny is especially outrageous as the dad who refuses to veer from tradition, even if it involves his new daughter-in-law getting an arrow through her neck rather than a good night’s sleep. MacDowell, who has developed a reputation for a being a little bit of a stiff actress through the years, proves perfect as the wicked mom whose bow and arrow skills are a little rusty.
Brody has fun as the wild card brother who may or may not be evil, while Guadagni’s permanent scowl is one of the funniest things in the movie. While satire is the main driving force behind the plot, the ending throws a curve that breaks from the predictability of some of the character arcs.
Weaving, who progresses from blushing, pristine bride to blood smeared, determined warrior delivers pitch perfect work. As crazy as things get, she makes Grace all the more real. The movie is a not-too-distant cousin of 2017’s Revenge, where an isolated heroine proves to be far more badass than her adversaries. While both are blood soaked, this one is a little on the funnier side.
While it’s fun indeed, and there are some laugh out loud moments, the movie doesn’t stand out as a genre original. It’s more a goof than anything truly eventful. Still, it’s undeniably fun.
Of note on Weaving’s future slate: she’ll play Alex Winter’s daughter in Bill & Ted Face the Music, the long-awaited second sequel to Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. She clearly has a future in comedy but, as she proves in Ready or Not, her talents are multi-dimensional, and more deep dramas coming her way would not be a big surprise.