Watch this as soon as you can…
Ready for a film that is a strong contender for film of the year, or not? It is difficult to be one of the best comedies of the year, and even harder to be one of the best horrors in 2019, with such tough competition. Yet, a case can be made for Ready or Not being the best of both genres. At once both eerie and nonchalant, abhorrent and amusing, this film walks a fine line between comedy and horror with the expertise of an Olympic gold-winning gymnast. The cast, score, and writing are essential for this darkly comic tone. However, this film is more than just a black comedy horror. It really has something to say about class relations in the same vein that Get Out had much to say about race relations. Like the latter modern classic, this film deserves your attention.
Ready or Not maintains a consistently brilliant darkly comic tone throughout. The scene which best encapsulates this is the scene where Grace (Samara Weaving) is driving away and is trying to contact the police. The person on the other end is going through procedure and being typically difficult. Somehow, at the same time, this is both hilarious and tension-raising. Throughout the film, the film oscillates from comedy to horror, and sometimes stays in the middle, with pitch perfect control. One minute it looks like Grace is about to die, the next the person about to shoot her misses and screams, humorously, “FUCK!” in response. The impeccable score, and every single performance, is integral to maintaining this balance between comedy and horror. Grace’s murderous in-laws are all perfectly cast, and their timing is perfect as they tread between the horrifying and the humorously incompetent. This film is better at the comedy side of things, for the horror sections are a bit over-dependent on jump scares and Weaving’s screaming. Nevertheless, it does both genres justice. This is a black comedy horror hybrid at its best.
The cinematography is also essential for creating this comic tone. The opening shot is of a Joker/Green Goblin like figure, suggesting that the sinister and the comic will bleed into one another throughout. We also getting close ups of Fitch’s phone as he searches for “how to use a crossbow” videos and as he asks whether this “pack with a devil” business is “bullshit” or not. It is laugh-out-loud funny, but unnerving when you actually think about it. Without trying to spoil the ending, the closing shot hammers this point home. It is a long take and the last line of dialogue perfectly captures the absurd comic horror of the film .The cinematography is well-considered and an important part of the tone being created.
What makes this film so special, though, is that it really has something to say about class. The “hide and seek” game seems to prove a perfect metaphor for the reluctance of the upper class to allow for breeding between classes. We know this from the wedding. All the characters seem sceptical that Grace will prove good enough for her husband, Alex. Grace points out that there is “no way to for me to win this game”, which seems to refer to her difficulty in being accepted and the game “hide and seek” itself. In fact, the entire family frequently let slip their polite facade to show their disdain for the lower classes. One servant is killed accidentally and they care as much as Vince Vega when he accidentally shot Marvin in the face. “She’s dead? She was my favourite”- it is like he has lost a toy. Why is it so difficult? Why is the upper class so concerned with preserving tradition? The absurdity of this tradition is frequently pointed out in the movie’s funniest scenes, as Fitch points out that he does not even know how to work the crossbow he has been given to go hunting. This film has a lot to say about class relations and it needs to be heard.
If you love Get Out, then you will adore this movie. Both are about the horrific underbelly lying underneath the relationship between two social groups. Both create much tension from a sinister family, which the main character is only just getting to know. That same family is also the source of humour in both films. Their nonchalance attitude towards murder, and the way they have all accepted something truly horrifying as normal, is another common element to both films. This is the Get Out of class relations.
A few films about the upper class have come out recently: The Souvenir, Downton Abbey, and Ready or Not. This is the one with something to say, though. And what it does say is told masterfully, with expertly timed performances, a fantastic score and smart cinematography. If you are going to see any movie about the upper class this year, see this one, if you’re ready.