When you marry someone, you don’t just gain a spouse. You gain a whole new family as well. If you can get along with your new relatives, then all is well: sometimes however, your in-laws turn out to be worse than outlaws, and that is where all sorts of problems will happen.
This is the situation poor Grace (Samara Weaving), the hapless protagonist of black comedy Ready Or Not, is facing. She’s engaged to Alex (Mark O’Brien), beloved son of the Le Domas family, who made their fortune from manufacturing games. And her extremely wealthy new relatives don’t seem to like her very much.
Even worse, Grace discovers that the Le Domas family has a tradition. Whenever there is a newcomer to the family, everyone plays a game together.
This would already be awful in normal circumstances: how many relationships have been ruined by arguments over the rules of Monopoly? But in Grace’s case, it’s even worse because they end up playing a hardcore version of Hide And Seek. Grace must hide and everyone must find her and – wait for it – kill her! And the weapons to do this deed can be a crossbow, rifle, axe, or whatever they may have handy. Wow. And you thought the rich relatives in Crazy Rich Asians were bad.
Ready Or Not is an over-the-top, occasionally campy, completely entertaining black comedy, containing high amounts of both silliness and slaughter.
The film walks a fine line between tense and ridiculous, and doesn’t always succeed in maintaining a balance of the two. But if you think that side characters being murdered in outlandish ways is funny, then boy is this film for you.
Despite being set in the present day, Ready Or Not feels like a Gothic horror film. This is because all the action takes place in the Le Domas mansion, which feels right out of the Regency era. It has security cameras yet all its illumination is done by candlelight! (Which honestly, should have been the first sign for Grace to get out of there as soon as possible.)
The film’s fun comes from its eccentric characters. Fitch (Kristian Bruun) is a family newcomer impatient for the ritual to end. Emilie (Melanie Scrofano) keeps messing up her kills. Becky (Andie MacDowell) is Alex’s mother, who becomes sympathetic towards Grace, while her husband Tony (Henry Czerny) is the kindly family patriarch who places importance in tradition above all else.
Canadian actress Nicky Guadgini steals the show however, as Aunt Helene, an elderly woman who is the most eager to let the bloodshed start.
Weaving (who by the way, is the niece of Hugo Weaving, of The Lord Of The Rings and The Matrix fame) does a great job as Grace. Her character manages to be sympathetic AND a foul-mouthed action heroine at the same time: we haven’t seen a bride kick this much butt since Uma Thurman in Kill Bill films.
This all adds up to some very gory set-pieces, killer one-liners and a bloody satire poking fun at the upper class.
There are both very tense scenes, and some really hilarious ones as well. In a way, however, this is also the film’s major weakness, as it seems to often waver between being a horror film and a comedy, never quite excelling at either genre to really stick in the memory.
The film has a terrific first half, with some really great build-up to some wonderful scenes. After the halfway point, it fizzles a little bit. One plot twist involving Alex’s brother seems to be a little convenient. Thankfully, the film is mostly enjoyable despite these little things.
Ready Or Not is the kind of film most people will probably either love or hate. Watching it might also give relief to everyone who’s ever had to suffer an awkward family reunion. Blood may be thicker than water, but at least your relatives aren’t all out to shed your blood!
Ready Or Not
Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
Cast: Samara Weaving, Mark O’Brien, Adam Brody, Andie MacDowell, Melanie Scrofano