We have seen a bride turn killer in films such as Kill Bill and we have seen them turn ghosts in The Curse of the Weeping Woman and The Ghost Bride. But what if a newlywed bride turned a target on the night of her wedding? If this idea sounds crazy, the execution (pun intended), is crazier.
Ready or Not is about what happens when a normal person tries to become part of a family that can only be likened to the Addams family on steroids.
Grace (a stunning Samara Weaving), a girl raised by middle-class foster parents, finds the love of her life in Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien), who is from the affluent Le Domas family.
They welcome her with a generations-long tradition of playing a game on the wedding night as a rite of passage for the outsider to become one with the household. Little does Grace know that the game she is fated to play, Hide and Seek, is not played the way she expects.
What makes this low-budget film brilliant is how many elements are intertwined in the story without taking a toll on the pacy screenplay that a film of this genre demands. During the course of runtime, as the family members try their best to hunt down Grace, we begin to understand them.
Alex’s brother Daniel (Adam Brody) has a drinking problem, while their sister, Emilie (Melanie Scrofano) is a drug addict. As the story unfolds, we also get to know more about the elders while the family goes around their massive gothic estate wielding antique weapons.
We are filled in on the backstory of how the family became a gaming giant, or as Alex likes to call it, a ‘gaming dominion’, with just a few mentions, instead of the run-of-the-mill flashback sequence. At the same time, we are shown how games play an integral part in the family’s life in small, simple ways.
For instance, we see them tossing a coin to decide who gets to carry the less heavy side of the dead bodies of maids they accidentally kill during their pursuit of the bride.
Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who form two-thirds of Radio Silence Productions, are not new to the genre and they prove their mettle here. The tone of the film remains intact despite them throwing in everything from a horror angle and gut-wrenching gore, to family drama, and even the occasional humour sequences.
The sequence involving Emilie’s husband, Fitch (Kristian Bruun) trying to figure out how the weapon handed over to him — a crossbow — works is easily one of the best comical sequences in a thriller in recent times.
Subtly touching upon topics such as class disparity, and taking a dig at thriller film tropes such as killers using masks and employing a dumbwaiter lift, Ready or Not gives us a lot to chew on. Samara Weaving, who has a fair share of dark comedies to her credit (The Babysitter; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; and Mayhem) is picture-perfect as the beautiful bride-turned-clueless victim who is pushed to the edge when her life is on the line.
The scene where she stands battered with a half-torn wedding gown, wearing a pair of Converse, and wielding a shotgun with a cartridge belt over her shoulder, conveys the essence of the film.
Ready or Not is a scintillating dark comedy thriller that brings out the best of the genre without stooping to usual cliches.
Film: Ready or Not
Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
Cast: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien, Andie MacDowell
Rating: 3.5 stars