The poster for Ready Or Not led me to believe a corseted Margot Robbie had opted to star in a period thriller filled with ammo, murder and mayhem. While we do get the tightly-bound dress and bloody killings, the film stars Robbie lookalike Samara Weaving, niece to Hugo Weaving, and is set in modern day. Directed by horror veterans Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett and written by Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy (not that Ryan Murphy), Ready Or Not offers a fun, nearly non-stop splatterfest, but operates on such an off-putting level that its obvious satirical points grow tiresome and repetitive.
Weaving plays Grace, a nice, normal woman who has said “yes” to marry Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien), an heir to a vast family fortune built from success in selling games. Alex’s eccentric clan, none of whom exhibit anything close to real human behavior, have an odd tradition of forcing newly wedded in-laws into playing a midnight game with them. Should she survive the night, she gains acceptance into the family. Sometimes the games are innocuous, but once in a while, through an odd selection process, they choose “Hide And Seek” in which the bride must hide from everyone until sunrise in order to win. If they fail to find her, they all die. Um, ok. Sign me up?
It seems the family wealth involved signing a deal with the devil with deadly games on the menu whether they like it or not. Clearly a satire about the 1% and the lengths they go to in order to retain their wealth, the film gets points for its unshakeable nerve and Weaving’s performance, but the filmmakers make the same point over and over. It’s still fun and filled with laughably violent set pieces, but I couldn’t help but think I was watching Drunk History, Another Period and Clue have a three-way battle and spit out enough blood to fill three Shining elevators.
The filmmakers have assembled a talented, interesting cast as the Le Domas family, including Andie MacDowell, Adam Brody, Henry Czerny and Nicky Guadagni as spiky-haired Aunt Helene, who seems to have wandered in from some 80s Duran Duran music video gone horribly wrong. At least she knows what movie she’s in, whereas the rest of the cast seems a bit lost amongst its arch, quasi fantastical tone. Aside from our protagonist, you won’t care about anybody else since they operate as pieces on the writers’ chessboard in order to prove to us that rich people suck.
Lucky for Weaving, she gets a showcase here, allowing our potential Final Girl to swear like a truck driver and pummel people into literal bloody pulp. She does so well I can’t wait to see her next film. I was actually ready to see her next film DURING this one! In a final shot highly reminiscent of a post-apocalyptic one of Winona Ryder in Heathers, one character gets to smoke a cigarette in front of a burning building and have the last word. That one word, while clever and amusing, further illustrates the type of lazy satire we’ve experienced for the past 95 minutes.
I don’t want to come down too hard on this film, since Ready Or Not has a sense of fun and hating wealthy people seems to be all the rage these days. One note, however exciting that note is, is still one note. Even satires have to make us care about the people or else they play like essays. The filmmakers have obvious talent, but I suggest an ammo reload and trying again.
GAY SCALE: For each review, I’ll rate the film on my 50 SHADES OF GAY SCALE to let you know how far it tips in our favor. Ready Or Not gets a 10 out of 50. Despite no overt gay content, Aunt Helene gives off major sapphic vibes and fantastic butch energy. She’s a kinky AF master with a battle-ax who likes to peep in on couples having sex. I want an Aunt Helene spinoff STAT!
By Glenn Gaylord
Ready Or Not is currently in wide release in the US and is making pretty good blood money compared to its fairly low budget.