By John Hanlon
“I realized that you’ll pretty much do anything if your family says it’s okay.” So states Alex (Mark O'Brien), the newly-wed groom in the comedic horror film Ready or Not. The entire feature focuses on a family tradition of the Le Domas family, a successful entrepreneurial clan who made their money in the gaming industry.
Their wedding night tradition is a unique one: at midnight, after a marriage ceremony, the new entrant in the family is forced to play a game with the rest of the family. Alex doesn’t tell his wife Grace (Samara Weaving) about the tradition until after the ceremony. It’s not surprising why he would hide it. When Grace picks a card — to choose her game of chance — she discovers that her game will be hide and seek. Unfortunately for her, it’s a deadly version of the children’s game.
As Grace hides (in her wedding gown, no less), she hunted by her husband’s family and she has to face off against them.
One by one, victims start to pile up as the bride and her husband’s family battle it out. The general concept here isn't unique and the dialogue makes references to books like Agatha Christie’s And Then there were None, which featured a group slowly being taken out one by one. However, this film manages to craft its own unique identity in the genre.
There’s a family dynamic at the forefront one and the relationships are the focus of much of the dialogue as the comedy plays with the awkward introduction of a new family member into a well-established clan. The Le Domas family seemed strange to Grace early on but she quickly realizes how truly insane they are. As the story unfolds, the dialogue references the fact that Alex stepped away from the family for a while and only recently made amends with them. It’s interesting to see how that familial dynamic changes as his new wife faces this outlandish turn of events.
The script by Guy Busick and R. Christopher Murphy offers plenty of violent sequences but it’s grounded by the complex relationships at the forefront here. Andie MacDowell, who plays Alex’s mother Becky, brings a great empathetic quality to her character. Becky believes in the family tradition but early on, she seems genuinely appreciative of Grace’s entry into the family and what that might mean for them coming together once again. After the hunt begins, she also shares a great poignant scene with Alex that reflects her conflicting desires.
The entire ensemble cast here does an excellent job creating vibrant characters who stand out. Nicky Guadagni, for one, steals scenes as the eccentric and merciless Aunt Helene. Elyse Levesque also does commendable work with limited dialogue as Alex’s cold-blooded sister-in-law Charity who doesn’t want to return to her life before marrying into the family. The biggest stand-out though may be Adam Brody, who plays Alex’s drunk and indecesive brother Daniel.
Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett craft Ready or Not as a traditional horror feature but one with personality to spare. Like Tucker and Dale vs Evil, they play around with the genre in a comedic and fun fashion.
Entering into an established family — especially a massive-successful business dynasty —is a daunting task and this feature takes that concept to new and delightfully delirious results.
Blu-Ray Special Features: The special features include a gag redl and audio commentary with Weaving and the directors. The stand-out feature is series of “Making of Ready or Not” featurettes showing some of the great behind-the-scenes moments of the film. The featurettes delve into the unique production of the movie with a focus on the wedding dress (27 versions of it were used), the family’s gaming empire and the practical effects brilliantly used in the 3rd act.