Directed by: Matt Benttinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett
Written by: Guy Busick & Ryan Murphy
Synopsis: A young bride joins her new husband’s rich, eccentric family in a time-honored tradition that turns into a lethal game with everyone fighting for their survival.
Starring: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien, Henry Czerny & Andie MacDowell
Genre: Horror, comedy
Runtime: 90 minutes
Rated: R (for violence, bloody images, language throughout, and some drug use)
Release date: August 21, 2019
Studio: Fox Searchlight
You may recall Universal recently canceled their plans to release The Hunt, a satirical skewering of the One-Percent who, in the film, hunt poor people for sport. A mere couple of weeks later and Ready or Not, a similarly brutal bashing of the rich, has snuck its way into theaters and the year in film is better for it.
We open on the happiest day of Grace’s (Samara Weaving) life, mere moments before the blushing bride-to-be is set to marry the love of her life Alex (Mark O’Brien) and become the newest member of the rich and powerful Le Domas gaming empire– or “dominion” as Alex jokingly calls it. The two steal a quiet moment alone together prior to the ceremony and Alex offers Grace a last-minute out and a chance to getaway from his messed up family for good. She refuses the offer and seals the deal with a kiss. It’s a sweet moment but one during which your stomach can’t help but drop knowing the hell that’s in store for her.
As is customary whenever a Le Domas gets married, the family gets together for a game. What they’ll play is a decision left to the fates as Grace randomly selects from a deck of cards all labeled with different possibilities. You can practically feel the stale air whiz past as it’s sucked straight out of the family’s extravagant game room upon the collective realization that the card Grace drew reads “Hide and Seek.”
The proceedings start innocently enough with Alex’s father (Henry Czerny) sending Grace off to hide somewhere in their marvelous rustic mansion while the rest of the family counts to 100. Little does Grace know that while she’s busy giddily sneaking through candlelit corridors, her in-laws are arming themselves to the tooth with a comedic array of old timey weapons, including a number of hunting riffles, a crossbow and a yes even battle axe.
Ready or Not clips along at such a pleasant pace that before you know it this demented round of Hide and Seek has more in common with a game of Chess, the two sides exchanging one bloody blow for another in a spectacularly savage struggle to stay alive. Despite its gleeful exploitation of our more bass tendencies, Ready or Not is a rousing and often cathartic crowd-pleaser guaranteed to elicit a handful of surprising reactions from the audience.
The success of directing duo Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s film begins and ends with Samara Weaving (niece of one Hugo Weaving), who turns in a legitimate star-making performance. She’s charged the thankless task of emotionally anchoring a film with such an overtly zany premise and cartoonishly inept antagonists. The brunt of all the horror as well as all the comedy falls back on Weaving, who miraculously sells every minute of it and with an irresistibly saucy flare.
I was so delighted by Ready or Not that halfway through I had to shake those pesky worries that there was no way the filmmakers could deliver a fitting finale. I can’t recall ever being so happy to have egg on my face. Just as the brisk 90-minute runtime is about to reach its end, the film churns out one last sequence of unexpected triumphs.
That was my review of Ready or Not. Have you had a chance to check out this film yet? If so, what’d you think? Did you agree with me? Or did you find it just wasn’t your bag? Sound off in the comments below and let me know what you made of it!