‘Ready or Not’ on HBO: Time to Stop Sleeping on the Best Horror-Comedy of 2019

by 24USATVMay 24, 2020, 2 a.m. 21
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Consider this a public service announcement: Ready or Not is soon to be streaming on HBO. More specifically, Ready or Not is airing on HBO tonight at 8 p.m. ET, and you should probably watch it as soon as you possibly can, because Ready or Not is a very good movie—possibly the best horror-comedy of 2019—and, frankly, I’m tired of people sleeping on it.

This is not to say that Ready or Not was ignored when it opened in theaters last August. For a small-budget, independent film it made a decent box office ($57 million against a $6 million budget), received good reviews from critics, and even got some Twitter love from horror king Stephen King. But was it nominated for an Oscar? Was it included in the New York Times‘ “Best Movies of 2019” round-up? Were stills from the movie used as reaction images on popular Twitter accounts? No, no, and mostly no. As disappointed as I am in all of you for that, now that Ready or Not is on HBO, you once again have a chance to prove yourselves.

Starring Samara Weaving—and not Margot Robbie, let’s get that out of the way right now—as a recent bride, this horror-comedy takes the awkward “meet the in-laws” dinner to a whole other level. Grace (Weaving) has just married her dream guy, Alex (Mark O’Brien). Grace loves Alex for who is as a person, and it just so happens that who he is as a person is filthy rich. Grace, a foster child with no family of her own, is more than happy to go along with Alex’s request to have their wedding at his family’s giant, old-school mansion. She’s also happy to go along with the family’s strict tradition of subjecting newcomers to a friendly game on their wedding night. Grace draws a card to determine the game they’ll play, which turns out to be Hide and Seek. Sounds fun, right?

Wrong. This “friendly” game of Hide and Seek turns out to be a deadly ruse. It’s actually an excuse for the family to hunt and kill Grace, a sacrifice they believe they have to make, because their ancestor made a deal with an old man, who might have been the devil, who promised them a fortune, so long as they followed these odd, sometimes murderous traditions. Alex had naively hoped Grace would get an innocuous game card like “Old Maid.” No dice. Now he has to help Grace escape his family. It won’t be easy. The house and the weapons may be old-school, but cameras and high-tech locks keep Grace trapped inside. Alex’s parents, siblings, and in-laws are determined to murder her before the sun comes up. If they don’t, they believe the entire family will die from the curse.

It sounds complicated, but it’s not, really. Just think of it as the aesthetic of Knives Out, the set-up of Get Out, and the plot The Most Dangerous Game. Writers Guy Busick and R. Christopher Murphy created a ripe atmosphere for horror-comedy and director Matt Bettinelli-Olpin executed it perfectly. This movie is pure fun from start to finish, from Alex’s brother-in-law (Kristian Bruun) researching how to shoot a crossbow on YouTube, to Alex’s cocaine-addicted sister (Melanie Scrofano) accidentally shooting everything that moves. And, as a little treat for fans of The O.C., Adam Brody plays the sexy, sarcastic bad boy—who turns out to be one of the few good boys—of the family.

But perhaps the best part of the movie is Samara Weaving, who more than proves she’s so much more than a Margot Robbie lookalike. She stalks around the house in her blood-splattered wedding dress, screams at her spineless husband to fuck off, and tenaciously fights to the end to keep those rich assholes from getting away with murder, again. The Ready or Not ending was divisive—don’t worry, I won’t spoil it—but personally, I loved it. You won’t be able to say you saw it coming.

In the end, Ready or Not is a metaphor for the illegal, immoral, and yes, deadly things that rich people do to stay rich. In fact, it’s an excellent addition to several other 2019 movies about classism—Knives Out, Parasite, Us—despite the fact that it didn’t get nearly as much attention as those films. But you, my friends, have the power to change that. Stream Ready or Not on HBO, and experience the delightful catharsis of vicariously killing rich people with crossbows. You won’t regret it.

Where to watch Ready or Not

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