For the first time in years, I went into a movie completely blind.
I’d never heard of “Ready or Not,” I had no idea who was in it, and I hadn’t even seen a trailer for it. Honestly, I didn’t know much more than these four words: violent hide and seek. What I did know, was that fans and critics alike were praising the little-known film, so how could I resist?
Going in blind can be a risky move, but for “Ready or Not,” it may be the best way to see it.
When Grace (Samara Weaving) marries into the Le Domas family, their traditions quickly become her own. Most family traditions are pretty easy to adapt to, like celebrating certain holidays, but not this one. Grace quickly finds out, with no help from her new husband Daniel (Adam Brody), that every time someone new joins the family, they must draw a card from a deck and play the corresponding game. Most are simple, like checkers or old maid, but occasionally someone, like Grace, draws the card for hide and seek.
Grace casually tries to hide, confused by Daniel’s suddenly somber mood, but soon she realizes what’s really at stake: this isn’t an ordinary game of hide and seek. The Le Domas believe that if they don’t find and kill Grace by sunrise, sacrificing her to the spirits responsible for their family’s success, they’re all doomed. Suddenly, Grace’s sense of urgency increases after she narrowly escapes a number of brushes with death. Trapped in the family’s mansion and with no one to help her, Grace must find a way to freedom, or else.
The greatest charms in “Ready or Not” stem from its excess. Whether it’s the over-the-top stylization of the set, characters and violence, the borderline-corny humor, or the excessive (yet comical) gore, the film takes everything to the extreme. The reason it all works, is because the film embraces its extravagance and never takes itself too seriously – creating the perfect crossover between thrilling horror and dark comedy.
As far as performances go, Weaving’s Grace is superb. During the decent into chaos, she’s forced to come to grips with the terrors unfolding in front of her, and she plays all the WTF moments perfectly. From the initial happy-go-lucky bride worried about fitting in with her new family to the horrific realization that said family is now hunting her, Weaving’s transformation propels the film, and despite her circumstances, she never loses her dark humor.
Other than Weaving, Brody’s Daniel and the rest of the Le Domas family aren’t anything particularly memorable. However, Kristian Bruun’s Fitch Bradley and Melanie Scrofano’s Emilie Le Domas do provide some of the film’s biggest laughs as the family’s most incapable human hunters.
In a summer filled with franchises, reboots and mega-blockbusters, “Ready or Not” provides a much-needed change of pace, creating something new from a simple childhood game. While it won’t go down as one of 2019’s best, “Ready or Not” it will certainly be remembered as the surprise of the summer – and just might become a cult classic.
Star Rating: 3 out of 5
Zach Goins is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association based in Raleigh, N.C. Zach co-founded Inside The Film Room in 2018 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the website and co-host of the podcast. Zach also serves as a film critic for CLTure.org.