Ready or Not offers splattery black comedy with real socio-political bite
It’s a white wedding and a red honeymoon for the unlucky lovers of Ready Or Not, a wickedly pitched black comedy that has way too much fun testing their newlywed vows — specifically the second half of “for better or worse” and very possibly “till death do us part.”
The marriage might not last the night, but the movie, co-directed by Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin (Devil’s Due), is over and out even quicker: 90 giddy, blood-slicked minutes of crossbows, fatal board games, and familial bitchery. The style is low-budget high-camp, and the horror tropes fly so fast and loose that it hardly matters if we’ve seen most of these tricks before.
A lot of the movie’s appeal hangs on the undauntable charms of Australian actress Samara Weaving (SMILF), who looks like a Disney princess but fights, when she has to, like a mad honey badger. She’s Grace, thrilled to be marrying Alex le Domas (Mark O’Brien) — not because of his money, which runs old and deep, but because they’re genuinely in love. “I honestly can’t wait to be part of your moderately f—ed up family,” she tells him sweetly before the ceremony.
They immoderately can’t wait to meet her, either. It turns out that the le Domases have made their fortune in games, and her initiation is to play one selected at random. She’s hoping for checkers, but the audience, who just sat through a grisly opening-scene flashback, knows there’s another option: Hide and Seek.
For reasons that will eventually be explained, this family — including Andie MacDowell’s sad-eyed matriarch and Adam Brody as Alex’s wry, boozy older brother — play to the death. What follows is a series of darkly comic set pieces punctuated by regular jump scares, a handful of nonplussed goats, and the occasional highly creative homicide.
Running beneath Ready‘s fairly standard and-then-there-were-none plot mechanics, too, is a clever thread of class commentary. Yes, the rich are different from you and me; does that mean they’re evil, or just monumentally self-absorbed? And what if it’s not really biology that’s destiny, but tax brackets? Gillett and Bettinelli-Olpin have a lot of fun with those ideas without belaboring them too much.
So come for the crossbows, etc., and to watch Weaving’s star be born in real time; stay for the socio-economic lessons and sweet, sweet revenge. That should still leave plenty of time to get home and plan your next game night. B+