Release Date: August 21, 2019
Director(s): Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillet
Cast: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien
Rating: 3.5/4 Stars
Ready or Not gets right to it. From the beginning, we are immediately thrusted into a deadly game of hide-and-seek. Two children run throughout a large estate seeking shelter, and one of the boys stops and urges his brother to hide and remain silent from the others in the house. Confused and distraught, just as much as we are from the get-go, the other brother obliges and hides while a man dressed in a black tux begs his presence not to be known. Soon, with little to shy away from in visually graphic detail, we watch and learn as the game comes to a decisive end.
Fast forward 30 years later and we meet our lead Grace who looks out from an estate below. A small group of family members gather and wait as the wedding between Grace and her “way into the family” arrives to meet and caution her with a last chance to leave him. Grace, puzzled as we are, firmly stands to remain a go with her desire to wed him despite concerns that his family despises her. Soon after, we meet the groom’s family composed of emotionally detached persons seeming to lack any possible kind of consideration or humanity to Grace and even each other.
Going into Ready or Not, I didn’t know much about the film other than word of mouth and its suggestive title. As one of the characters explains, the rules are simple. Pick a game at random, and play it until it is finished. Marked by tradition and commenced under a most mysterious agreement, Grace, as the newest addition to the family, has to pick the game unbeknownst of the risk of picking hide-and-seek. We understand that selecting the card marks doom, and soon after, our lead understands it all too well. I imagine there is a movie to be had when a new entry in the family picks any other game like Old Maid, or Go Fish; but considering the uniqueness at hand with hide-and-seek, I’m sure the moments spent watching the others would pale in comparison to what unfolds throughout the remainder of the film.
Like its predecessors in the genre, Ready or Not sticks to its darkly comedic horror elements with entertaining thrills and taut suspense. From beginning to end, the film consistently stays and succeeds on its cat and mouse chase. Bizarre, and darkly comedic moments color the film with (mostly) successful laughs and smiles to be had. Regarding a few of the exchanges between characters during much more quieter and taboo moments, most of the humor lands in mischievous and devilishly hilarious ways while some can miss as cringe. During breaks between the chase, exposition and motivations are explained away that can sometimes feel dumped, but moments revealing character make up for what can at times feel forced.
Regarding its roots in the realm of horror, Ready or Not does not shy away from its creative use of blood and gore. For those with a more squeamish stomach, you may find yourself having to turn away a few times throughout. And with a memorable finale, Ready or Not doubles down in its schlock and awe. Simply put, if you’re in the mood for a bloody good time, Ready or Not is the game for you as it was for me. It’s straight up bonkers, and it knows itself too damn well to be anything else.
Ready or Not is rated R for violence, bloody images, language throughout, and some drug use.