Ready or Not stars Samara Weaving, Mark O’Brien, and Adam Brody and was directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillet. It tells the story of Grace, played by Samara Weaving, who’s just married into the very rich Le Domas family. As part of a family tradition, Grace is forced to play a game on her wedding night and, after picking hide and seek, she soon realizes that this family plays the game with a slightly different set of rules. Ready or Not is my kinda movie. It’s interesting, it’s tense, it’s brutal, and it’s way more fun than you would expect. The premise is simple enough and it really does draw its inspiration from a lot of other movies, but so what? That’s part of the fun of it.
The filmmakers know that we’ve seen films like And Then There Were None and Clue (not to mention a certain scene from Hocus Pocus), so they take our expectations and incorporate them into this movie in unique ways. Frequently, those expectations are subverted. We anticipate that certain scenes will play out in predictable ways or that certain characters will behave in a stereotypical manner, only to find those expectations flipped on their head. That’s not to say this is an incessantly twisty movie cause some things do play out how you would expect them to. But, even in those instances, the way in which the scenes are presented prevents them from ever feeling tired. A big part of that comes down to the tone of the film. It has this near-perfect balance of tension and levity. Ready or Not is gonna be classified as a horror comedy and although that genre is definitely fitting, I don’t think it fully captures what this movie really is. There’s no question that the film has a lot of comedy in it, but it’s not just straight laugh-out-loud jokey humor.
It’s got a lot of witty dialogue and some really dark situational humor. But, it’s all presented in this almost light-hearted way that’s really hard to describe. It’s pretty self-aware, but never in an overly-obvious or meta kinda way. It comes more in the form of how characters react and respond in certain situations and how that mirrors the audience’s reactions at those points. I think my favorite example of that is a scene where Grace looks in a mirror and, after seeing herself, just goes ìJesusî. So, rather than calling this a horror comedy, I think it’s probably more accurate to consider this an extremely fun horror thriller. Despite the comedy and some light-hearted character moments, there are some genuinely tense sequences in this film. It pulls from the slasher and home invasion horror subgenres and really makes use of its life-or-death hide and seek premise.
The build-up is great cause we have an idea of what’s going on, but our main protagonist doesn’t at first. So, watching that transformation from playfully skeptical participation to horrified understanding (expertly mirrored by the gradual transformation of her wedding dress) is really compelling and the set-up for her character makes her extremely relatable and easy to root for. As with any good game of hide and seek, there’s plenty of breath-holding tension, but this movie also doesn’t shy away from showing us some unexpectedly brutal things when it comes to injuries that various characters sustain. You’re gonna be wincing a few times, that’s for sure. Ready or Not isn’t gonna be a movie for everybody, but if you like your horror mystery thrillers with a heaping side of fun, you’re gonna be in for a treat. Alright, let’s talk about the pros and cons. Pro number one is the tone. This movie really nails the tone it was going for, even if it’s a little difficult to explain exactly what that tone is.
It presents a thrilling mystery in an incredibly fun and frequently humorous way. It never resorts to dumb humor, but also never gets too clever for its own good. I think the best way I can explain it is by comparing it to another movie: Hot Fuzz. Specifically, ìthe greater goodî. That whole storyline creates a serious threat for the main characters, just like it does here, but maintains this sense of fun and entertaining levity without becoming a parody of itself. The second pro is the pacing. At just a bit over an hour and a half long, this film moves at a pretty good clip, without feeling rushed. Again, the basic premise is really simple, so 95 minutes was pretty much perfect. The set-up and character introductions happen fairly quickly and the bulk of the movie is the game of hide and seek.
There are a few moments of sorta historical exposition which briefly slow the movie down at points, but that wasn’t really a problem for me. I thought the mystery they were crafting was pretty interesting and those moments provided a little bit of a breather from the tension. On the con side, my issues are pretty minor. The first problem I have is with some of the side characters. A few of them have mannerisms that didn’t quite come off as funny as I think the filmmakers thought they would. Obviously comedy’s subjective, but I thought a few of them were pretty irritating. Then again, we’re not meant to like these characters. Con number two is something I hesitate to really call an issue cause it’s very easy to call a movie like this out of it. It’s derivative. Again, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing cause, at this point in human history, every story is drawing inspiration from ones that came before it.
This film is really reminiscent of others in the genre, but I think it still manages to put a fresh spin on the story. I’m gonna give Ready or Not 4 out of 5 paws. It’s able to meld a fish-out-of-water class differences story with a horror thriller premise and does so in a fun, clever, and exceedingly entertaining way. I would recommend Ready or Not to anybody who likes humor-tinged horror or thrillers. It’s definitely not a laugh-a-minute movie and the comedy’s frequently quite dark, but its tone will probably satisfy even fans of serious horror or thrillers. The movie definitely isn’t for everybody though. There are a couple moments of gore and, depending on your personal comedic sense, you might think some of the things that happen in this movie that are played for laughs go too far. So, if you’re sensitive to either of those things, you might want to skip this one.
If you liked Ready or Not, I’ve gotta recommend You’re Next. It’s another frequently brutal home invasion horror thriller steeped in dark comedy. If you liked the comedy involving the side characters here, make sure you check out Clue. Not only did it clearly serve as inspiration for this story, but it’s also got the game connection too. Speaking of games, another game-themed comedy with a pretty crazy plot is Game Night. And, if you just really liked the tone of this movie, definitely check out Hot Fuzz. Trust me, it’s for the greater good. Alright, a couple questions for you guys. Number one: Have you seen Ready or Not? If so, what’d you think of it? And number two: You’ve been roped into a life-or-death game of your choosing. What game do you pick? Be sure to leave your answers in the comments below so we can get a discussion going.