Ready or Not
Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien, Andie MacDowell, Henry Czerny, Nicky Guadagni
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
…a pacey, black horror comedy with a thing or two on its mind and a spectacular lead actress.
Marrying into a rich and powerful family must be a bizarre experience. You’d have to jump through so many hoops just to prove you weren’t cementing the union for financial reasons, and entering the world of a modern dynasty would likely cause severe culture shock. Ready or Not, from directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, takes that premise a few steps further, asking, what if the wealthy clan’s eccentricity stretched to murder?
Grace (Samara Weaving) is marrying Alex (Mark O’Brien) and joining the filthy rich Le Domas family, who made their fortune flogging board games. The family ranges from acerbic and drunk with Daniel (Adam Brody), to superficially pleasant with Alex’s mum, Becky (Andie MacDowell) to downright terrifying, with hatchet-faced aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni). However, things don’t become truly dark until midnight after the wedding when tradition dictates the family plays a game. Grace has to pick a card and play whatever it says. If it says chess, they play chess. If it says checkers, they play checkers. And if it says Hide and Seek? Well, Grace will be the sacrifice in a deadly game that must see her dead before dawn.
Ready or Not‘s best qualities can be summarised in two words: Samara Weaving. Her take on Grace is at turns spunky, funny, likeable and vulnerable, with a wry knowing quality that continues her ascendance to Scream Queen status. Combined with a brisk, if occasionally unambitious, script, the action plays out as a black comedy for most of the runtime, although it gets darker and weirder for the better in the back end. Adam Brody and Andie MacDowell both offer wonderful support roles, and the rest of the cast are solid too, and while it falls short of brilliance, the story engages throughout the duration.
There’s a subtext of the rich using the poor that underpins Ready or Not, and although it’s not explored as much as one might hope, it’s great to see mainstream horror embracing allegory over jumpscares. While echoing certain beats of 2011’s You’re Next, Ready or Not is fresh enough to offer a pacey, black horror comedy with a thing or two on its mind and a spectacular lead actress. While falling short of being an unmissable classic, it’s absolutely a game worth playing.