“Ready or Not” is here to thrill

“Ready or Not” weaves intense scares, hysterical punch-lines and pertinent themes into a comedy-thriller joyride that is well worth the 90 minute investment, if you can overlook the film’s blatant predictability.

It follows a slew of thriller films within recent years – from “Truth or Dare” to “Game Night” – that have centered around the concept of a game gone extreme. Rather than attempting to subvert what is known as the “hide-and-seek” horror sub-genre, “Ready or Not” embraces its extravagance and absurdity, literally with a game of hide and seek. 

The movie opens with the nuptials of Grace (a spectacular Samara Weaving) and Alex (Mark O’Brien), of the venomously wealthy Le Domas family, who made their fortune in manufacturing video games. On their wedding night, Alex informs her of a seemingly innocent family tradition: Grace must draw a random card to select a game to play with everyone.

Predictably, Grace draws the worst of the bunch, and as she obliviously runs off to hide, the seekers arm themselves with ornate weapons, determined to kill her before dawn.

The Le Domas clan, looking like fugitives from the Addams Family, are a mixed bag. 

Matriarch Becky Le Domas (veteran Andie McDowell) is sincere, nuanced, and slightly terrifying. Comedic relief was often provided by the overzealous Emilie (Melanie Scrofano) and Fitch (Kristian Bruun), who hilariously spent the majority of the movie researching how to use his crossbow on the toilet. 

Daniel Le Domas (Adam Brody) provided the only element of unpredictability throughout the movie, and it was thrilling to see whether he would succumb to self-interest or overcome it. However, most of the other members of the family, especially leader Tony Le Domas (a usually brilliant Henry Czerny), were underdeveloped and underutilized, unconvincingly portraying the realities of being an American elite.

But perhaps directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett were heavy-handed in their portrayal of the opulence of the Le Domases to further emphasize on the deal-with-the-devil motif that runs throughout the movie. It is a clear commentary on the soullessness of the wealthy and exploiting the unsuspecting, but, for better or worse, the message doesn’t seem to go beyond that depth.

Despite clear foreshadowing leading up to its twist, I was still gutted when the final sequences played out. 

That’s what makes “Ready or Not” so great; at its core, the film is about providing pure, edge-of-your-seat entertainment. It never tries to outsmart you — instead, it smartly juggles gripping tension with perfectly timed punch lines, a near-impossible feat for modern movies.