Ready or Not takes a simple thriller premise and fills it up with a great presentation, some slick direction, and an endearing lead you want to root for.
The plot revolves around Grace, a young bride who plays along with her newlywed husband Alex and his family, the Le Domas, in a game of hide-and-seek that lasts until dawn. Turns out that the family intends to hunt and kill her, so she has to run and fight back while we discover that all this is a diabolical family ritual.
The backstory behind the Le Domas family and its gaming empire is a little murky, though they made the tale of how they got into this ritual and predicament clear. Well, they presented it in a way that makes you second-guess the family’s sanity or whether the old wives tale of the family dying if they don’t fulfil their quota to their “ghostly” patriarch is a load of horses***. Still, that bit of the narrative serves its purpose and is kept simple so we can focus on what matters.
The visceral thrills and action beats are pretty gruesome and tense. The set design of the mansion where the hiding and seeking take place is on another realm of “rich person fantasy” tropes and serves as a good reminder of how unique their mentality is. Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillet channel the campy 80s slasher vibe with a lot more 2019 aesthetics and a punched-up script with witty moments.
Samara Weaving nails it as an initially cheerful bride who ends up scared but also takes it in and fights back with her range of fear and mixed resolve. The rest of the actors who play the messed-up rich family from the apathetic Adam Brody as one of the sons to the mad patriarch figure Henry Czerny all have their moments in the spotlight.
A Bit On The Shallow Side…
As for character building and development though, you won’t find that in here. A lot of plot details and character motivations in the third act all came out of nowhere and did not feel earned in the slightest. Sure, they were hinted at and alluded in the show’s flashback at the start of the film and during the first act, but it felt like the movie just dropped all forms of build-up and development halfway through and just did a number of revelations for the sake of it.
This is a film you can’t watch without me spoiling bits here and there to tell you why it isn’t a perfect film, so you’ll have to make do with the previous paragraph. The directors did drop the ball a bit at the end, but at least it went out with a bang or seven. I’ll say this: it’s definitely worth a full viewing, especially if you want a great blend of humour and thriller action mixed in with some well-to-do gore.