Ready or not, here comes 95 minutes of devilishly dark comedy gold that definitely earns its R rating with its gruesome violence – so leave the little ones at home for this one. In the same violent vein as 1998’s Very Bad Things starring Christian Slater, Ready or Not is about a young bride on her wedding night playing a game of hide and seek in a massive mansion with her new, eccentric and super wealthy in-laws. But the game soon turns into something much more terrifying when she soon discovers that her new family are trying to kill her before dawn so they can take part in an ancient ritual.
I have to admit that I thought this was a pretty silly premise at first. But as the story unfolds and all of its twists and turns are fully revealed, this ended up being a fantastically entertaining movie that stays strong right to the end with its brilliant ending.
Directed by filmmaking duo Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett (Southbound, Devil’s Due), the fun begins just before the wedding of Grace (Samara Weaving) and Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien), only with the blushing bride a bit nervous as she’s about to marry into an extremely wealthy family. Coming from humble beginnings she wants to make a good impression on her new family. But something isn’t quite right in the celebrative atmosphere as Grace is slowly introduced to the people who will become her in-laws. But given the extravagant nature of the Le Domas dynasty she pushes past her nervousness and weird encounters and happily marries Alex.
After the vows are all said and done, Grace is ready for a night of partying and consummating the marriage. However the Le Domas family have other plans. They have a tradition of playing a randomly chosen game at midnight whenever there’s a new addition to the family. Unfortunately for Grace, she draws the card for hide-and-seek which requires her to be the one hiding while her new extended family try to find her. Why is this unfortunate you may ask? Well, because hide and seek is the only game that requires the Le Domas family to hunt and kill the hiding participant before dawn.
Oh, and the hiding participant isn’t told this beforehand. How rude. When Grace realizes that she is in mortal danger, she must call on every ounce of survival instinct she has in order to survive the free for all hunt that will reveal the true nature of the Le Domas family by the night’s end.
Ready or Not is full of fantastic performances across the board. Samara Weaving is wonderful as Grace, the slightly goofy, down-to-earth girl who never had a close family growing up. But don’t let that girl next door attitude fool you. When the stakes get real, she unleashes pure survival carnage and dominates the screen and does whatever needs to be done in order to survive this devilish game of hide and seek. Weaving isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty and delivers an intense, fiery performance that I’m sure is going to open up many future roles because she is simply fantastic. Oh, and did I forget to mention she’s Australian. 🙂
The rest of the cast are also fantastic and nobody drops the ball. I’d love to praise them individually but to save space I’ll just mention one more standout performance of note. Nicky Guadagni, who plays Aunt Helene, is hilariously menacing as the scowling and creepy Aunt Helene. She simply exudes evil incarnate and makes no effort in trying to have a human soul. Everytime she appeared onscreen I couldn’t help but feel drawn to whatever she had in store for me, even when the wasn’t the focus of the scene. She’s the missing member of the Addams Family and I loved watching her.
Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett must be patting each other on the back because they’ve made a truly great film. At the start I’ll admit to being a bit uncertain about the premise as it seemed a bit extreme. But once all is revealed you realize you’ve just watched a perfect balance of comedy and gruesome violence that also has strong, memorable performances. The atmosphere and sound design wonderfully complement the color palette to create a raw, intense and unnerving vibe. It’s hard to believe these two very talented directors have only done one feature before this. OK, they’ve done a bunch of shorts and television episodes but I’m still impressed nonetheless.
With a strong female lead kicking some serious butt and a story that has an ending to die for, Ready or Not is a movie well worth seeing if you can stomach the violence. I must stress it’s quite brutal in parts so if you are squeamish, offended by brutality for the purpose of entertainment and humor this may not be the movie for you. But for the rest of us sickos, this is a near-perfect mystery/thriller/horror that gets my highest possible recommendation. It’s amazing.