By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
Oh, how I miss Wes Craven. If the late, great fright-meister got has hands on the new horror movie “Ready or Not,”
he could have done wonders with it.
He surely wouldn’t have squandered such a golden opportunity and turned a juicy premise into a ridiculously, unscary and humorless, blood-splattering mess like the film’s directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have done.
In “Ready or Not,” Samara Weaving (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and TV’s “SMILF”) plays a bride named Grace who has come a long way from her meager foster care upbringing. She’s marrying into a wealthy family. Since that doesn’t happen often, this is truly cause for celebration.
The Le Domas family—or “dominion” as they prefer to be called-- initially made their fortune in the playing cards and board game industry.
Grace’s handsome husband Alex Le Domas (Mark O’ Brien, “Bad Times at the El Royale”) appears more nervous than a groom should be. There’s a reason why of course. Grace stumbles upon it unexpectedly.
Since Grace doesn’t have any relatives and oddly no friends to attend her big wedding, she hopes to win over Alex’s family. It’s going to be tough. We all know in-laws can be crazy. Well, this family turns out to be downright psycho.
The patriarch, Tony (Henry Czerny, TV’s “Quantico”) and mother-in-law Becky (Andie MacDowell, TV’s Cuckoo”) seem OK on the surface. Even Alex’s drunken brother, Daniel (Adam Brody, TV’s “Single Parents”), is fun to be around. However, the one to worry about is Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni, TV’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”). That woman has a look that can kill.
Clearly, Aunt Helene doesn’t like Grace. Yet, Alex insists that everything will be fine.
It won’t be fine.
Alex offers Grace a chance to reconsider and back out of the wedding. Is he getting cold feet, or does he know something we don’t? There is way too much money for Grace to inherit for her to even consider calling this thing off.
She tells Alex that that she’s willing to do whatever it takes to become part of the family and make everyone like her. What better time than for Alex to tell Grace about a longstanding family tradition she must become part of.
Whenever a new member is welcomed into the family, they must play a game at midnight to honor a deceased colleague/friend of Tony’s. They made some sort of pact. There’s more to it, but I won’t unpack it here and spoil things. Anyway, the games are usually like Checkers, Old Maid, etc. The game is determined by drawing a card. There’s one card/game that if chosen has major consequences for everyone involved.
For Grace, it all sounds silly--and trust me it really is-- but hey, if that’s all it takes for Grace to ingratiate herself among the family, she’s game.
Wouldn’t you know Grace chooses the one bad card of the bunch with the game of “Hide and Seek” written on it.
Grace thinks it’s the simple little game we all grew up playing. The rules seem that way. But this game of “Hide and Seek” requires the person be killed before dawn or the entire is family is killed too. WTH? If you choose not to play, we’ll, The Grim Reaper comes a-knocking.
Grace, of course doesn’t know all this. How could she? Alex couldn’t possibly tell her, or he’d be a marked man too. So, she hides somewhere in the family mansion as they all try to find her. They’re coming with crossbows, shotguns, axes and guns.
It’s only when Grace sees the maid accidentally shot right in front of her that she realizes she’s not going to win this “game” and come out alive unless she wises up pretty quick and starts hunting these crazed hunters.
Meanwhile, Alex is trying to get away from the in-laws too and save Grace and explain why he couldn’t tell her about this “game” ahead of time.
There’s nothing inventive, daring or even edgy about “Ready or Not.” It’s supposed to be a biting, satirical dark comedy, but it’s really a preposterous, juvenile movie that relies on buckets of bloody mayhem—often at the expense of women--for laughs and shock value.
“Ready or Not” is not good at all.
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Watch This Trailer For "READY OR NOT"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of The Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC), The Alliance Of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.