You've probably been there. Sat with your in-laws, realising that if it weren't for the person you loved there is no way this group would have come together. Awkward conversation gives way to a crippling silence and you wish you weren't there. Well it could all be worse, as the fabulous new horror-comedy Ready or Not sets out to prove.
Ready or Not benefits from a nifty set-up. Newlywed bride Grace must go through a seemingly trivial ritual before her wealthy in-laws accept. She must play a game with them, picked at random by a mysterious box, on her wedding night. But if hide & seek is picked then, unbeknownst to her, they will hunt her down and kill her. And of course Grace picks hide & seek.
Oodles of fun, Ready or Not is a terrific comedy, teasing out laughs aplenty as proceedings escalate through the hero's hellish night. A talented supporting cast make for a particularly repugnant set of in-laws, perhaps the worst set in cinema history. The likes of Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell, Melanie Scrofano and Kristian Bruun all eek out guffaws and chortles as their friendly demeanours slip and desperation sets in. Nicky Guadagni threatens to steal the show as a vile aunt, whilst a rare glimmer of sympathy comes from Adam Brody, who makes a refreshingly complicated presence. But this is Samara Weaving's movie and she truly makes it her own. She gives a warm, spirited turn that makes Grace a fabulous Final Girl, with the by-product that Ready or Not becomes surprisingly tense in its second half. You want Weaving's Grace to survive the night, her increasingly incredulity at her situation exactly what the film needs.
Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillet, having previously stood in anthologies Southbound and V/H/S here have lots of fun with their expanded canvas. Ready or Not doesn't get too bogged down in its own mythology, but does feel refreshingly weird enough to stand out in horror circles. And the geography of the film's setting leads to some wonderful set pieces. If you're going to mount a lethal game of hide & seek, an expansive mansion is the perfect setting for it. All this is brought together with a pairing of Brett Jutkiewizc's cinematography and Brian Tyler's score, making the film a wonderfully atmospheric affair. Ready or Not is the marriage of confident direction and a superb star turn that all builds to one of the best horror climaxes of the year. Seek it out and you'll have a riotous time.