“At midnight, my family plays a game,” says Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien) to Grace (Samara Weaving), after they marry at his wealthy family’s country estate. “It’s a weird family ritual, but you only have to do it once.” Grace, raised by foster parents, says, “I’m just glad to be part of a real family.” “Our family,” adds father-in-law Anthony Le Domas (Henry Czerny), “is very big on traditions.” Little does Grace know (not a spoiler), the game is Hide-and-Seek. She hides, the heavily-armed family seeks and, for her, it will be life or death. That’s the setup for “Ready or Not,” an over-the-top, violent horror/thriller.
Can Grace hide from seven, murderous Le Domas family members who believe they will die if Grace lives? Does Alex help Grace escape his killer family? Will this brutal film entertain you? If you’re like me, not much.
Samara Weaving, breathing hard and terrified, is convincing as Grace, the frantic lead. Her new in-laws, carrying cross-bows, battle-axes and antique guns, are in pursuit. Mark O’Brien is husband Alex. “When you marry into this family,” he says, “if you don’t play the game, you die.” His brother, Daniel (Adam Brody) is a reluctant player. “This doesn’t end well for you,” he says to Grace. “I just don’t want to be the one to serve you up.” Father and mother in-law (Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell) take the family tradition more seriously. “Do you all think this is an f-ing game?” shouts the Le Domas patriarch.
Others in the cast include Melani Scrofano as Alex’s sister, Emile, who accidentally kills a family servant and explains, citing her drug addiction, “I don’t know what I’m doing.” The scariest family member is Aunt Helene, played by Nicky Guadagni. She enthusiastically dispatches another servant with her battle-axe, and says, “I had to see my Charles killed — the only man I’ve ever loved.” Elyse Levesque is Charity, youngest member of the family. A game-player, too.
“Ready or Not” is a thriller in which class warfare is a satiric secondary theme. Co-directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, from a script by Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy, its wealthy, upper-class characters are not-very-bright stereotypes — full of themselves and convinced they are better than everyone else. As Daniel tells Grace, “Don’t take it personally, we’re just trying to figure out if you’re a gold-digger.” Grace is the only character about whom I cared at all.
Rated R for violence, bloody images, pervasive language, and drugs, “Ready or Not” runs 95 minutes. Adults only, if you’re up for it.
You can miss “Ready or Not,”
Not many thrills, not much plot;
Satiric tone, but not much fun;
I cheered up when it was done.