Ready or Not (2019)
The Game Begins.
Ready or Not is a twisted horror-comedy, along the lines of You’re Next, where the audience gets to spectate on a deadly game of Hide and Seek. This high-energy, well-paced film is sure to keep you engaged until its end game.
Grace (Samara Weaving) is about to marry Alex (Mark O’Brien), son of the extremely wealthy Le Domas family, who made their fortune selling board games. Minutes before the ceremony commences, he gives her the option of ditching the wedding. Naturally, the bride-to-be, who spent her childhood in foster homes, laughs it off, a decision she later wishes she had taken more seriously. Minutes after the wedding, when the bride and groom expect some alone time, Grace learns of the family’s long-standing tradition: after the nuptials of a family member takes place, a game must be played at midnight. She, unfortunately, pulls the rarely played “Hide & Seek” card, which we learn from flashbacks is the deadliest game of all. Now it’s the Le Domas family against Grace. If they can kill her before dawn, the family remains unharmed. If Grace is victorious, an old pact made between the family patriarch and a man named Le Bail, who is symbolized as a demonic being, will result in the entire family meeting their fate.
The premise may sound a bit silly, but Ready or Not proves to be a refreshing hit for the genre. Expect a lot of gore, a lot of laughs and a lot of well-placed f-bombs. Samara Weaving’s star shines bright, figuratively and literally. The visuals are quite dark, with the setting confined to the Le Domas mansion and surrounding woods. Samara’s character Grace, who is forced to play the game in her beautiful white gown, has a glow to her, likely to show the contrast between her and the evil family she just married into. She makes for a playful final girl, giving herself a quick, more practical makeover and delivering witty one-liners in between fighting to stay alive. Sure she makes a few careless errors, like leaving a trail of her dress behind and not grabbing the gun before running for the hills, but she has a lot of expressive energy that makes for a memorable role. Her chemistry with brother-in-law, Daniel (Adam Brody) is enjoyable to watch. Daniel, who continues downing drinks long after the wedding, is clearly fed up with his family’s antics and finds himself swaying between being loyal to tradition and being an ally to Grace. The film isn’t filled with big-name celebrities, but the cast plays well off each other and makes the looniness seem believable.
The film’s atmosphere is old-fashion, leading you down the dark wood hallways and marble kitchens of the Le Domas mansion like you’re in a violent game of Clue. The house is filled with trappings that make it seem nearly impossible for an outsider to escape, from secret passageways, dumbwaiter elevators and a barn pit filled with skeletal remains. It’s a perfect watch around the Fall season and gets an A+ for production design.
A few plot twists are predictable and the climax could have been fleshed (no pun intended) out more, but Ready or Not comes through with its clever writing, charismatic and strong female lead and the perfect mix of comic relief. With a run time of just over 90 minutes, it’s a fun, fast-paced ride that’ll give you a bout of the jitters as if you’re a kid playing Hide and Seek again.