An unsuspecting bride discovers on her wedding night that her husband’s family initiates her by playing a deadly came of . . . hide and seek. Sounds unbearably corny, right?
Don’t judge a movie by its dumb concept, man! Or its hokey title, for that matter. True, usually a movie like this is quite predictably a waste of time. But Ready or Not has a sly undercurrent of self-awareness, never takes itself too seriously, and while it might be a stretch to call it “clever,” it is consistently funny, largely thanks to its great ensemble cast of mostly unknown actors. The most recognizable player is Andie MacDowell as the groom’s mother, and she immediately proves delightful.
All of these judgments are largely subjective, of course, and this movie absolutely won’t be or everyone. Some viewers will still dismiss it as stupid; others will be unable to stomach its gruesome humor. It’s hardly a surprise the reviews are somewhat mixed, albeit leaning toward favorable. As far as I’m concerned, co-directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have created a work of such specifically dark humor, fundamentally, this movie is my jam. But I find a lot of seriously twisted shit funny.
Ready or Not is unique in its consistency of quality. The script, by Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy (not the TV producer), relies a bit too much on exposition at times, but most people open to a movie like this to begin with isn’t going to care much. Suffice it to say that if you have a bent sense of humor, this movie is a guaranteed good time. I laughed a lot.
And the plotting is impressive, considering it’s about a rich family attempting to kill a woman just married into it, as part of a traditional ritual involving a common child’s game. It’s 95 minutes of not knowing what’s coming next, a surprisingly unpredictable maze of menace, tension and hilariously lethal accidents. The variable tone never stretches too far; one minute I was looking at the screen through my fingers, and the next I was cracking up. Either way it’s a blast.
There is an element of satire regarding the filthy rich, which this movie could have benefited from leaning into a bit more, or perhaps the notion of the bride, Grace (Samara Weaving), becoming the type of person she’s running from. It’s somewhat ironic how this movie “keeps it light,” given how much bloodshed there is in it. I guess the work of considering how fucked up it is to delight in the demented is left to ponder once the movie is over. You might be a bit distracted by how over the top it gets at the very end.\
Ready or Not is not designed to be anything but fun — and the knowledge that some people might be horrified or disgusted by its playfulness with things like Satanic ritual is a big part of the appeal. I kept thinking about how much more fun this movie would be going into it blind, not having any idea what it’s about. It begins with what seems like a lovely wedding at a stately mansion. I’d love to find friends to introduce to this movie in such a way. Who doesn’t love being blindsided by the delightfully deranged?