At a frequency unlike fans of any other genre, horror fans have had to slough through decades worth of cheap thrills, low-effort films, and various slasher reboots. While some of these reboots can prove to be as electrifying as their predecessors (like 2018’s Halloween reboot), a majority of modern horror films are made poorly. However, beginning with Jordan Peele’s Get Out in 2017, the horror genre has been experiencing a renaissance in terms of film quality. Peele was the first modern horror filmmaker to create a clear disconnect between the stereotypes of the genre and his own film, which seemingly inspired other horror films to soon follow suit, like John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place. Both films took home an Academy Award, which is highly unusual for films of the genre. Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett both seem hellbent on continuing this trend for the genre, pleasing audiences with their new visceral murder party movie, Ready or Not.
In Ready or Not, Samara Weaving plays Grace, a newlywed bride who is inducted into a vastly rich family. The problem is that this particular family has rather strange customs, one of which includes a game of Hide-and-Seek where failure to stay hidden until dawn results in death.
Ready or Not boasts the same level of self-confident originality and quirkiness that Get Out does, despite being based on the simple premise of a childhood game. The strength in Ready or Not lies in its tense atmosphere and its superb buildup, both of which are beautifully executed by the usage of dramatic irony — there are several instances in which the audiences are enlightened to an aspect of the film that the characters themselves are not. Although the film features a family cult, Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett use humor to detract from the darker side of the occult, making the movie both unique and unlike other cult-based films such as Hereditary.
Music is a centrifugal component in maintaining any form of atmosphere in film, but especially in horror, as a crescendo can either build up to a scare or the absence of music itself can cause discomfort for audiences. The composer for Ready or Not, Brian Tyler, excels on this front, keeping the pacing of the film at a consistent level. Tyler never seems to play his hand distastefully like many of the modern horror films that blast audiences’ eardrums with high-pitched orchestral screeching, but rather, his music inspires a balanced atmosphere of both mystery and horror.
Although the movie is admittedly more violent than most audiences would prefer, its violence is presented tastefully alongside a brilliant script filled with dark comedy. Even though previous horror movies have half-heartedly mixed comedy into their writing, Ready or Not does so in a ingenious way that proves that comedy and horror can coexist even in well-made films. That being said, prospective audiences should be warned that Ready or Not is comparable to Quentin Tarantino in terms of both visceral thrill and profanity.
With Ready or Not receiving favorable reception from critics and fans and already raking in $11 million in box office sales, it’s clear that the horror genre is slowly breaking away from stereotypical jump-scare loaded cheap thrill films, and originality is paying off more than ever.