‘Ready Or Not’ (2019)
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Directed by: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett
Written by: Guy Busick & Ryan Murphy
Starring: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell,Melanie Scrofano, Kristian Bruun, Elyse Levesque & Nicky Guadagni
In a vast desert of mediocre end-of-Summer releases currently plaguing the box office, ‘Ready Or Not‘ is an oasis of fun and thrills! The premise is simple: a newlywed bride (played by Samara Weaving) marries into a board game dynasty family. On her wedding night, the family insists that she follow tradition and play one game at midnight in order to truly be part of the family. An antique puzzle box decides which game will be played and that game turns out to be hide and seek. She hides somewhere in the huge estate owned by the groom’s (Mark O’Brien) family and the family then tries to find her. Little does she know that the family must not only find her but also kill her before dawn in order to keep their pact with the devil which allows them to maintain their wealth and power. What she thinks is just a game quickly becomes a fight for survival as she realizes that she must not only stay hidden, but she must also stay alive!
I was initially thinking that this was going to be a straight up horror film, but soon realized that it was more of a suspense flick with great elements of dark comedy thrown in to the mix. Think: ‘Saw‘ meets ‘Cabin In The Woods‘ with a dash of ‘War Of The Roses‘. The cat-and-mouse game between the family and their newest member pivots effortlessly from dire to droll and then back again. There’s a twist at the end that I didn’t quite see coming (which is always welcome) and the pacing of the film never once felt labored. The acting from the cast is solid all around and the comical moments are peppered in along the way although perhaps just a little too much in one or two instances. Adam Brody and Nicky Guadagni were my two favorites of the cast as the conflicted brother-in-law and the creepy aunt, respectively. Samara Weaving establishes herself as a dynamic presence able to portray a wide range of emotions in the span of a single film and I can only imagine that this was a delightful role to get as an actor.
The ending of the film, while over-the-top, was probably the perfect coda for this 95 minute whirligig. Considering the originality of the conept, the quick pacing of the story and the strength of the acting in this movie, I’d say that ‘Ready Or Not’ manages to seek its way to a 7.5 out of 10 for me. If you’re looking for a truly fun experience at the movies this weekend, I’d say go ahead and get your tickets for this one and see it at a theater near you!! With the current batch of clunkers out right now, ‘Ready Or Not’ is a film that won’t stay hidden for long.