Ready or Not
Ready or Not is everything you want out of a solid horror comedy: blood, humor, and a kiss of social commentary.
After a brief, ominous flashback, we join the film just as Grace and Alex (Samara Weaving and Mark O’Brien) are about to get married. The young couple are sweet and sarcastic, and it’s obvious that their love has been quick and deep. They’ve only known each other for 18 months, but neither has any doubts about their connection.
Their relative lack of time together pales in comparison to the oddness of Alex’s relatives. The Le Domas family is blue-blooded and petty as they come, and through a rapid-fire montage of introductions we see that these people have the kind of wealth that means they need no verbal filter or additional friends. They don’t mince words and refuse to easily hand out pleasantries. In other words, they feel entitled to do whatever necessary to stay on top.
That night, as per family tradition, the newest family member must play a game. It might be chess or Old Maid, but Grace draws a card that reads “Hide and Seek.” Far more malicious than merely a cat and mouse hunt, the family instead perverts the premise to be better fitting of The Most Dangerous Game. They will hunt Grace. Not all of the family members are happy about trying to kill the latest person to join their clan, but some of them are rather gleeful and filled with bloodlust. The game is now afoot!
For those who’ve already seen Weaving in The Babysitter or Mayhem, her mesmerizing performance will be no surprise. Grace is not a survivalist like in You’re Next or a badass like in Alien. Instead, she has insatiable will to live and to survive. She makes mistakes and has some bad luck, but never gives up and never doubts that she can make it out of all this alive.
Weaving’s ability to deliver such a strong performance with plenty of humor mixed in might have been the best part of Ready or Not were it not for Aunt Helene, played by Nicky Guadagni. Every single scene this sour-faced woman graces with her harsh words and festering hatred for happiness belongs solely to Guadagni. She carries the burden of elevating the film up to the level of satire, rather than merely funny and kind of absurd. Throw in a few maids who look like Robert Palmer’s backup band, and you’ve got a movie that’s having fun with the silliness of its premise and refuses to be taken too seriously.
Visually, Ready or Not takes full opportunity of its decadent setting in an expansive mansion to the fullest. The rich wood carvings, candelabras aplenty, and scattered portraiture offer a serene contrast to all the blood and spite flying around the house throughout the night.
In one of the most tonally appropriate decisions in cinema this year, Ready or Not takes every possible jab at the strange behavior of the One Percent. It’s painfully clear that this family’s odd traditions and murderous history are directly tied to their financial status.
There’s very little not to like in Ready or Not. The movie has buckets of blood, a high body count, and doesn’t hold back from a little fun at the upper crust’s expense.