Ready or Not

Do you want to play a game?

Family gatherings are rough, especially when meeting the significant other’s family or if boardgames are involved. Ready or Not combines those elements and takes it to a whole new and fun level.

Grace (Samara Weaving) and Alex (Mark O’Brien) are celebrating the happiest day of their lives. Unfortunately for Grace, she’s marrying into the wealthy Le Domas family and that comes with certain traditions. At midnight they must play a game and, unfortunately for Grace, the game is a deadly one that means she will have to survive her new family until morning.

You don’t want to know what would have happened if she’d drawn “Twister”.

B-movie can be used in a dismissive way, to imply lack or quality of cheapness. It conjures to mind the likes of Ghostquake, The VelociPastor, or Lavalantula, not that there’s anything wrong with enjoying that particular brand of cheese, but to me a B-movie is a movie that revels in its genre movie roots and is unpretentious in presenting what it is. Such is the case here, as Ready or Not is crazy, fun, off the wall, and loaded with memorable moments.

This is probably unsurprising when taken into account the fact that the directors are two of the guys from Radio Silence, the group behind the V/H/S films. The recipe here seems to be some You’re Next, a bit of Get Out, and a pinch of The Most Dangerous Game but much more humour than that combination might suggest. It’s also all flavours of humour; you have the dry-one liners, dark comedy, direct (yet still fun) satire about the upper classes that gets pretty outrageous in the third act, physical hijinks and some out-right absurdity, and it lands just right.

Although don’t think that just because the film is funny it doesn’t also commit to the gore, because there are some wriggle in your seat in painful sympathy moments and the bloodthirsty will be very satisfied. There are also some great tension sequences as well, with twists and turns that make you think that just maybe things aren’t going to turn out so well for Grace. The humour is what probably saves Ready or Not from the controversy that fellow human hunting class satire The Hunt came under.

I mean what’s a little maiming between family?

The house is such a great setting; twisting and intricate, appropriately like a puzzle box, and also richly opulent. It’s like a gothic fun house and – as clichéd as it is to say – a character in and of itself. The cast running around that house are a great ensemble. Samara Weaving proves with this, after Mayhem and The Babysitter, that she should absolutely be the first person to call for this type of movie, well, mayhem. Her Grace is sweet with a steel core and ready to get back at those who wrong her. Adam Brody, Andie MacDowell, Henry Czerny et al gives the material 100%, but Nicky Guadagni as Aunt Helene definitely manages to steal every scene that she’s in, although Melanie Scrofano as the hyper drugged-up Emilie comes close.

Ready or Not is probably the most game based bloodshed I’ve seen since the last time I tried to get my family to play Settlers of Catan, and is also a complete riot that brings the laughs, brings the violence, and leaves you with a grin on your face the way that the best kind of thrill rides do.


Updated: Sep 25, 2019

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