"Ultraviolent Hide and Seek"
What You Need To Know:
READY OR NOT walks a line between bloodshed and dark humor. Before its conclusion, the movie starts to feel redundant. The movie is extremely graphic in its bloodiness, with abundant foul language. Also, it has an ugly undertone that hurts its entertainment values, especially as it plods near the end. READY OR NOT is abhorrent.
READY OR NOT is a darkly comedic horror thriller about a bride who marries into a strange, extremely wealthy family and then learns she has to fight to literally survive her wedding night because they’re secretly murderous occultists. READY OR NOT is well produced and the occultists are eventually defeated, but it runs out of steam at the end and contains abundant foul language and extremely graphic and bloody violence, often played for dark laughs.
A young woman named Grace (Samara Weaving) is about to marry into the extremely wealthy Le Domas family, who have made a vast fortune creating an empire based on various games including card and board games. Grace is marrying Alex (Mark O’Brien), whom the family discusses elliptically as having “abandoned” them, and thank Grace for bringing him back into the fold.
Yet even as Grace is admiring the impressive trappings of their huge estate, she feels that there’s something wrong in how the new in-laws are treating her before her vows. Alex even tells her she’s free to give up on him and go, as he’s afraid to directly tell her she’s in danger, yet clearly is hiding something from her.
Once the ceremony has taken place, and Alex and Grace are playfully about to consummate their marriage, she comically freaks out when she sees his elderly aunt watching them from a hidden room. Alex makes things worse by revealing that the family requires her to play a game with them at midnight, a prospect she finds more annoying than sinister.
However, Grace enters a huge hidden room filled with all manner of old-fashioned weapons, including swords and giant old shotguns. Hearing more about the family’s odd history, she’s asked to pick a card out of a box. The card indicates that the family is going to play “Ready or Not” with her, a game which they explain as a “hide and seek” with creepy overnight play times.
In reality, they have to capture Grace (or any newcomer to the family) by dawn or risk their own destruction. The goal is to maim her and subject her to an occult ritual. However, things get out of hand quickly, and soon Grace and the entire family, plus their staff of maids and butlers, are out to kill each other.
READY OR NOT walks a fine line between extreme bloodshed and dark humor that few movies manage to pull off, and it succeeds most of the time on that level. However, about 20 minutes before its conclusion, the movie starts to feel redundant as viewers are likely to wonder how many times can the same person get away from dangerous situations.
The movie has several impressive things going for it, including a terrific orchestral score by Brian Tyler that transcends the genre until the last few minutes seem to suck the energy and verve from it. The look of the movie is stunning as well, with the home a masterpiece of set decoration and art direction that’s endlessly inventive and makes the house almost a character in itself as the humans weave in and out of endless rooms and tunnels.
The fact that the cast is largely unknowns, aside from a wickedly funny turn by veteran actress Andie MacDowell, also plays to its advantage. This makes the unpredictable writing shine further, as viewers won’t have preconceptions on how each “star” will behave, especially in the movie’s various life and death scenarios. Samara Weaving is particularly strong as the linchpin performance of the movie, with Adam Brody playing as the possibly nice guy in the family who seems like he might be willing to help save her.
However, the movie is graphic in its bloodiness. Also, it lets the meanspirited wisecracks of the evil family and their casual disposal of the victims in their games take strong precedence. As a result, READY OR NOT ultimately has an ugly undertone that hurts its entertainment values, especially as it plods near the end. Finally, although the evil family is destroyed at the end,
For horror fans and aficionados of cleverly written dark comedies, READY OR NOT has some real charms, but for anyone else, the answer is “not” and this movie should be avoided.