Ready or Not – Movie Review

By Leslie C. Halpern

The extremely wealthy Le Domas family, whose ancestors made their fortune in creating games, must keep alive a wedding night tradition whenever someone new enters the family. It’s just a little game playing at midnight. What’s so frightening about that?

Plenty, if the game card the new spouse selects happens to be “Hide and Seek.” Grace (Samara Weaving) is a lovely young bride deeply in love with her new husband, Alex (Mark O’Brien). Having grown up poor in a variety of foster homes, she longs for the large family and wealth that Alex can provide. His father (Henry Czerny) hates her, his aunt (Nicky Guadagni) gives her the stink-eye, and his older brother (Adam Brody) hits on her. Even so, they’re the family she’s never had.   

Samara Weaving stars in Ready or Not. Photo copyright 2019 Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Family’s Gaming Tradition

When Alex finally tells her about the gaming tradition, Grace good-naturedly goes along with it. When she selects the “Hide and Seek” card, however, the tone gets decidedly darker. She scampers over to hide in the mansion’s dumbwaiter only to find a shivering servant already in there.

They’re having a little chat until the servant gives away Grace’s location, and then suddenly the servant receives a fatal wound that’s meant for Grace. Although the audience watches as the relatives are assigned various deadly weapons in an earlier scene, it isn’t until that moment at the dumbwaiter that Grace realizes this is a true hunting game, and she is the prey.

Dark Humor

Despite the horrific premise, gallons of blood and guts, and truly suspenseful moments, Ready or Not proves plenty of dark humor sprinkled throughout that helps break the tension. The Le Domas mansion and its grounds play a formidable role in this sure-to-be-a-cult-classic film. Darkly foreboding with tight security and intricate secret passages, the house works against Grace as much as any of the characters. As Grace in her blood-soaked, ripped-to-shreds wedding gown, Weaving is as likable as the Le Domas family is unlikable.      

Plot twists, sarcasm, and some silliness keep things interesting (in a Zombieland [2009] kind of way), and this is not a predictable thriller. Even if you figure out one or two of the surprises in advance, you won’t expect all the craziness the script provides for these characters. Other than a miscast Andie MacDowell (who can’t seem to capture enough bitchiness to be the Le Domas matriarch), the actors (especially Weaving) take their parts and run with them…and then hide…and then seek.

Ready or Not

An innocent young bride marries into a bizarre family that has dangerous wedding night rituals.

  • Stars: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell, Melanie Scofano, Kristian Bruun, Nicky Guadagni, Elyse Levesque
  • Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
  • Writers: Guy Busick, Ryan Murphy
  • Genre: Horror/Thriller/Comedy
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • MPAA Rating: R (for violence, bloody images, language throughout, and some drug use)

Leslie C. Halpern is the author of Scantily Clad Truths: Essays on Life with Clothes (and without) and 200 Love Lessons from the Movies.