Ready or Not (2019)
Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
Imagine Lord Grantham on bath salts using Downton Abbey as a hunting ground for the most dangerous game, and you’ll conjure up something almost like “Ready or Not.” “In-laws are murder” the film’s tagline says, and this tongue-in-cheek tone appropriately captures the mood “Ready or Not” is going for—with such a bonkers plot, playing it straight would have come off as silly. Instead, they lean all the way in.
Samara Weaving is Grace, the unsuspecting new bride of a man, Alex (Mark O’Brien), who stands to gain a fortune as the heir to a board game empire. The night after their wedding ceremony on the grounds of the family’s outdated and oversized family mansion, Grace is told that in order to officially gain acceptance in the Le Domas family, she must participate in a game. For the next five hours, Grace will have to run and fight for her life as members of the Le Domas family (Adam Brody, Andie MacDowell, and many more) make her the victim in their sadistic (but traditional!) game of hide-and-seek.
From the start, “Ready or Not” grabs your whole stomach in its hands and squeezes so hard you’ll feel like you’ll burst from excitement and anxiety. It’s easy to root against the rich assholes who put a nice woman in such a dire scenario, but it makes Grace’s continued success in this game all the more satisfying while it lasts. “Ready or Not” gives off “Don’t Breathe” energy, except Grace is outnumbered and outgunned. But to mention “Ready or Not” in the same breath as “Don’t Breathe” threatens to ignore the many, many hilarious moments in this film. You’ll laugh just about as much as you’ll gasp. Maybe more.
Samara Weaving, as has been noted (just like it had been noted when Emma Mackey starred in Netflix’s “Sex Education”), has strong Margot Robbie features. But it’s not just the big eyes and dirty blonde hair. Her sassy, take-no-prisoners attitude makes Grace feel like a Robbie character. Andie MacDowell is a delight, and to see her appear in a new movie is always a welcome sight. Veteran character actor Henry Czerny’s batshit performance as the family patriarch was also a bright spot. Never having had a reason to look up his name, I’m glad I have one now.
Movies like “Ready or Not,” that rely on surprises to push forward the plot, are rarely ever as fun to watch a second or third time…but that shouldn’t stop you from watching something this fun once!