Review: Games Get Deadly in ‘Ready or Not’

Ready or Not one-sheet poster

Ready or Not | Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett | August 21, 2019

Ready or Not, directed by the duo of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett (Southbound, Devil’s Due, V/H/S) and based off a screenplay penned by Guy Busick & Ryan Murphy, features the bloodiest game ever of hide and seek that will have you rethinking about saying yes the next time your in-laws invite you over for a game night.

It’s wedding day for Grace (Samara Weaving) and her soon-to-be husband Alex (Mark O’Brien), part of the esteemed and super-wealthy Le Domas family who have made their fortune thanks to success in the game industry. He and his brother Daniel (Adam Brody, Shazam) offer her a last-second chance to back out and escape marrying into this family, but she thinks they’re toying with her. We know something that she doesn’t after seeing the film’s effective opening sequence, a flashback that sees the two brothers engaging in a game that gets another family member killed.

Ready or Not still - Grace picking a game

Grace doesn’t get a warm welcome from a good majority of the Le Domas kin, who see her as someone who is just marrying Alex for the family money. But she’s a good person who grew up an orphan, genuinely does love him, and just wants to enjoy their life together. She comes so close but just has one last task following their lovely wedding. At midnight following the wedding, she must join the whole family for a game. She picks a card from a random deck and whatever card she picks is the game that they all engage in for the night. As luck has it, there’s only one card that can prove deadly for her and – wouldn’t you know it – that’s the one that she picks.

The game is hide and seek, and it isn’t as easy as just finding her. The Le Domas family loads up with all sorts of old-fashioned weaponry that you’re sure tons of rich old-money folks really still stock around their fireplace-lit libraries and parlors and go hunting to kill her. She thinks it’s just a game until she sees Alex’s drug-fueled sister (Melanie Scrofano) accidentally shoot a maid and realizes that she has entered a world of hell that is impossible to understand. The family thinks that they will all die if they don’t kill her before sunrise, and are on a mission to find their sacrificial lamb. Alex pleads with his family not to go through with it, sure that it’s all a bunch of BS. But led by their deranged father (Henry Czerny), nothing but bloodshed can quench their thirst.

Ready or Not still - the armed Le Domas family

Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett deliver a film that knows exactly what it’s going for and delivers it in a confident style that is equal parts batshit crazy and admittedly lot of fun, all while poking a bit of fun at morally corrupt rich folks. It takes its subject seriously enough where there are legitimate dramatic stakes but it also knows when to turn up the camp (and gore) enough to make even Sam Raimi smile and a go-for-broke attitude that totally leans into its ridiculous premise. Sometimes it teeters the line of being a bit too wild for its own good but it mostly works thanks to leading lady Samara Weaving.

Weaving, who is actually the niece of Hugo Weaving, delivers the goods in a leading performance that has her pegged as a name to watch in the immediate future. She is perfect for a role that requires equal parts shock and awe, but also a bit of an unhinged wild streak that needs to come through when she inevitably fights back against this crazy family. Mark O’Brien and Adam Brody deliver the rarer dramatic moments well here, with actors such as Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell (Groundhog Day), Orphan Black‘s Kristian Bruun & Elyse Levesque, and Melanie Scrofano (Wynonna Earp) chewing the scenery with the absurd character roles that they are given. But make no mistake, this is Weaving’s movie and she is a good reason why Ready or Not is the pleasant late August surprise that it is.

Ready or Not still - a bloodied Grace

Ready or Not does run at a merciful 95 minutes, but even at that length, its premise does eventually feel a bit played out towards the less-effective second half, which is ultimately saved by the time it’s all said and done with its nutty finish which will probably make it or break it for most audiences. While not all of it works, Ready or Not ultimately knows the deck of cards that it’s playing with and doesn’t pretend that it’s anything but a silly and campy bit of shlock that delivers exactly what you’re expecting. And considering we’re about to engage in the months-long awards season leading to the Oscars, Ready or Not‘s arrival is a more than a welcome slice of entertainment.

Rating: 7.0/10