Ready or Not

  • 07 Sep - 13 Sep, 2019
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

The petals in Grace's (Samara Weaving) bridal bouquet aren't even wilted when her new husband, Alex Le Domas (Mark O'Brien), informs her that their wedding day isn't over yet, and Ready Or Not, there's a long night ahead of them. The Le Domas family gained their considerable fortune in the board-game industry, and its family tradition for newly married couples to sit down with the whole family at midnight to play a game. It could be checkers or chess; one married-in relative even admits to having played Old Maid. But the card Grace chooses is different. And in the menacing game of hide and seek that she's forced to play, her new in-laws will hunt her until dawn, by which time either she – or the entire Le Domas family – will be dead.

Coming off like a mash-up between The Purge and Clue, this stalk-and-slash thriller swings and misses at pointed social commentary, but it's bloody good fun anyway. There's a lot to love here, starting with Ready or Not's visual look: The camera stalks polished wood hallways and finds the creepy shadows and hollows in every face except Grace's. She's lit with a golden glow that's no doubt meant to point up how good she is – how very good, particularly when compared with her evil new in-laws. The cast is the other five-star aspect of Ready or Not, from Weaving's easy charm and relatable bad-assery to Andie MacDowell's sweet-and-sour matriarch to, most particularly, Nicky Guadagni's breakout performance as Aunt Helene, who glowers like no glowerer has ever glowered on film.

Ultimately, the movie's messages about "the one per cent" don't land. About the most biting barb it can muster is "Absurdly rich people!" And it's probably supposed to be funny that the house's domestic help, including a trio of identically dressed maids in five-inch heels, suffers along with the Le Domases. But having working people bite the dust along with the idle rich muddles the point, and it's disconcerting that the movie seems to save most of its goriest violence for female characters. In short, as a better-than-average thriller, Ready or Not deserves a look. But though it clearly longs for the same relevance, it's no Get Out. It's a snack, not a meal, so don't go in too hungry.