Girl meets boy, girl marries boy, girl spends her honeymoon fleeing from boy’s murderous family. Such is the plot of Ready Or Not.
The film follows Grace (Samara Weaving), the newly-wed bride to Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien) of the wealthy Le Domas game empire. After the wedding ceremony, Alex sheepishly informs Grace that his family traditionally welcomes new members by playing a game at the stroke of midnight. An amused Grace agrees, and draws a random card to decide which game the family would play. Little does she know, by choosing a card labelled “hide and seek,” she unwittingly agrees to a deadly game of cat and mouse. The audience quickly realizes the fatal stakes of the game before Grace does. She spends the rest of the film hiding and fighting for her life, as the weapon-wielding Le Domases attempt to hunt her down before dawn, supposedly to give Satan his sacrifice and protect the family fortune.
Even though its heroine spends the film fleeing from her in-laws, Ready Or Not hesitates to identify itself as purely horror. Its scenes are interspersed with blood, gore, and the occasional jump-scare, but the film catches the viewer by surprise as it blends a dark sense of humour into its plot. One of the film’s memorable comic-horror moments arises when Fitch Bradley—Alex’s brother in law—is shown watching an instructional video on his phone entitled, “Getting to know your crossbow.” Bradley’s cluelessness challenges the idea that horror villains exist as well-oiled killing machines. The movie humourously juxtaposes a terrified Grace battling murderers with a naive, inept villain.
Ready Or Not is a horror film that commits to the blend of horror and comedy. This union of genres makes for an engaging viewing experience; the audience is at the film’s mercy, waiting to laugh or jump, and equally prepared for either. Samara Weaving’s portrayal of Grace wields this power flawlessly: Her hilarious and creative combinations of curse words provide comic relief even during a chase scene that teems with suspense.
The casting only adds to the successful union of genres. Andie MacDowell gives an arresting performance as Alex’s mother, Becky Le Domas. MacDowell, who is largely known for her roles in classic romantic comedies such as Groundhog Day or Four Weddings and a Funeral, continues the film’s tendency to privilege unlikely creative choices.
Equally as delightful is the comforting familiarity of aesthetic and narrative tropes. The wealthy Le Domas family’s dysfunction is reminiscent of Schitt’s Creek’s hilarious Rose family, while the trope of an unsuspecting victim entering a villainous family harkens to Jordan Peele’s Get Out. Relying more on humour than horror, however, Ready Or Not similarly critiques elite society. The Le Domases’ bloodthirst is prompted by faithfulness to family tradition and preservation of their wealth.
Ready Or Not is a horror-comedy of manners, satirizing the wealthy class while aligning the audience with its “final girl,” a refreshingly sharp and relatable protagonist who strays away from the dumb blonde horror victim stereotype. Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett craft an inter-genre thriller that combines seemingly incompatible themes, bloodshed and humour, to create an engrossing viewing experience. Moviegoers will find that there is but one thing they can say to Ready or Not:“Here I come!”