The best way to describe Ready or Not is Clue meets You’re Next with a hint of Game Night. The film effortlessly blurs the lines between quirky comedy and slasher flick. While not a whodunit, it keeps the audience guessing who will survive the night and what’s transpiring behind the scenes. Like Cabin in the Woods, the film’s premise is so inventive and its mystery is so fun that you’re better off going in blind. All you need to know is that Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have made a wickedly fun thriller that’s well worth seeking out.
Samara Weaving beams with charisma as Grace, a young woman marrying into wealthy family. Grace’s groom-to-be Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien) warns her that his family is beyond dysfunctional. That doesn’t prepare her for the wedding night that awaits, however. Among the Le Domas clan are patriarch Tony (Henry Czerny), drugged out daughter Emilie (Melanie Scrofano), bumbling son-in-law Fitch (Kristian Bruun), and vampiric Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni). The only member of the family who seems decent is Alex’s brother Daniel (Adam Brody). Of course, his wife Charity (Elyse Levesque) is cold enough to make hell freeze over. In perhaps the film’s most inspired casting choice, Alex’s mother Becky is played by Andie MacDowell, who goes from arranging a wedding to planning a funeral within one day.
Alex neglects to tell Grace before they tie the knot that every newcomer must play a game with the family. Grace draws a card to determine what they’ll play and, as bad luck would have it, she selects hide-and-seek. Grace soon realizes that their version of hide-and-seek is more like Richard Connell’s short story, The Most Dangerous Game. Armed with axes, guns, and crossbows, the family must hunt down Grace before dawn, believing something terrible will happen otherwise. Whether Grace wins or not, her wedding dress is going to be much redder by sunrise.
If you grew up with a large board game collection, Ready or Not will appeal to the kid in you. The film will also appeal to the adult in you with its buckets of blood, casual swearing, and shock humor. While Clue is the most obvious board game that comes to mind, this movie may have even more in common with 13 Dead End Drive, in which the objective was to actually bump off the competition. Like any great murder mystery party, the appeal of Ready or Not lies in its eccentric ensemble. Everyone strikes just the right balance of being despicable and lovable, although Grace is the only player we root for. The Le Domas mansion even evolves into a character of sorts. Its production design gives the film a timeless atmosphere and foreboding tone reminiscent of And Then There Were None or even The Haunting.
While it’s hard to say if Ready or Not will immediatley find an audience, this has all the makings of a classic midnight movie. Akin to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, one could imagine fans lining up to screenings wearing blood-soaked wedding dresses. The film is over-the-top while being clever, nostalgic while being modern, and cringe-worthy while being applaud-worthy. It’s a B-movie on the surface, but an A-movie in every other respect. Ready or not, you’re going to have a blast.