Ready Or Not is one of those films that could so easily have come and gone with very little fanfare. The directing and writing team behind it are not very well-known names and the cast has a few recognisable faces but nobody with huge blockbuster star power. However, this all seems to have worked entirely in the film’s favour, allowing it to sneak in under the radar and surprise and delight audiences because at its heart it is one thing above all else: bloody marvellous!
Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett and written by Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy, Ready or Not is the story of Grace, a woman who marries into a wealthy family, knowing that most of that family don’t really like her. She’s so desperate to please them that she goes along with their weird tradition of playing a game on the night of the wedding. She pulls out a card dictating that the game be Hide and Seek and dutifully goes to hide, not knowing that the family are planning to not just find her but kill her, too. What follows is a dark comedy that is as hilarious as it is genuinely tense and frightening and packed to the mansion with violence.
The cast that have been assembled here play their parts to utter perfection, helped by a sublime script that gives everyone something to do. From newlyweds Grace (Samara Weaving) and Alex (Mark O’Brien), to Alex’s alcohol-fuelled brother, Daniel (Adam Brody) and mother Becky (Andie MacDowell), everyone has their part to play and watching the many hidden depths of their characters unfold as the night goes on is an absolute treat. Weaving and Brody are particular highlights, with Weaving channelling both Grace’s initial sweetness and the developing hysteria that comes from being hunted down by her new in-laws.
The shocks and laughs keep coming as the film progresses and the filmmakers know just when to pull back on the violence and bring in the laughs – and vice versa – in order to keep audiences engaged. It’s genuinely tense and scary in parts and then utterly bonkers and laugh-out-loud just moments later, upping both the anticipation and enjoyment levels throughout.
You never really know where it’s going to end up but it’s so enjoyable being along for the ride that it’s not really an issue. And when you do reach that ending, it certainly doesn’t disappoint, maintaining that perfect mix of hilarity and violence and still taking the time to give its characters the motivations and backstories they need – and to fully appreciate the complex relationships between family members that, in turn, feel earned even without much explanation.
And all this packed to perfection into a blissful 94 minutes running time.
With such stunning work on both sides of the camera, the only thing that is perhaps not surprising is that Ready Or Not is such a witty, clever and deliciously blood-splattered masterpiece. Every second is utter perfection and so much fun.