The ultra-rich are evil and generally messed up. That’s the premise that Ready or Not runs with instead of running from. Equal parts satire and extremely gory horror film, this black comedy can be considered a cousin to 2017’s Get Out, although it dials up the humour as opposed to the eeriness. Tonally, think more Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. The end result is an easily-consumed guilty pleasure already racking up cult appreciation, and will likely earn itself a spot among the the most standout horror films of 2019.

For some context, Ready or Not sees Grace (Margot Robbie-lookalike, and fellow Australian, Samara Weaving) marry into the extremely wealthy and powerful Le Domas family. The dark, dysfunctional Le Domas clan is far from welcoming but as Grace wants to win over her in-laws, she happily participates in one of their weirder traditions. When someone marries into the family, they must play a game at midnight on their wedding day, in honour of the fact that the Le Domas fortune was built on board games and sporting goods. The chosen game is determined by randomly drawing a card from a special box, and Grace picks Hide and Seek. With that, the stakes change. Grace isn’t just trying to impress her in-laws; she has to survive their attempts to murder her before sunrise.

Although it ramps up the tension at significant moments in Grace’s nightmarish pursuit, Ready or Not is most notable – and fun – when it pauses to focus on its villains: a bumbling multi-generation collective of 1%ers. Sociopaths. Coke-heads. Cynical alcoholics. Die-hard traditionalists. Soft newcomers who need YouTube tutorials on how to use a crossbow. This is the Le Domas family, and recognisable faces portraying them include Adam Brody, Andie MacDowell and Melanie Scrofano.

Acting talent is a requisite, because in the midst of the ineptitude, there are real flashes of heart. For example, Brody’s Daniel has been a lifelong protector of his younger brother Alex (Mark O’Brien), and loathes his kin’s activities. However, Daniel has caved multiple times in the past and finds himself torn between greater family loyalties and the knowledge that what they’re doing to Alex’s new bride is fundamentally wrong. Grace and the audience never quite know where Daniel stands.

Speaking of Grace, Ready or Not is a star-making vehicle for Weaving. Horror heroines usually take some time to find their backbone, but with a determined glare and sassed-up dialogue, Weaving’s Grace – already a lifelong survivor – almost immediately “woman’s up,” morphing from incredulous to practical. There’s nothing she won’t do, or even do to herself, to escape.

For better or worse, Ready or Not has been trimmed of all fat. The film is a brisk 95 minutes, and filmmakers Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett – part of the team involved in horror anthologies V/H/S and Southbound – are happy to leave some intriguing sub-plots unexplored. That does mean, however, that the trailer for Ready or Not spoils more of the movie than usual. It’s recommended that you don’t watch it if you really want to maximise your enjoyment of the film.

Entries in the horror comedy sub-genre remain sadly rare. Ready or Not provides a tidy serving of this lesser-seen treat, and makes perfect Halloween fare.

Last Updated: October 8, 2019

Ready or Not
It suffers from trailer over-revelation, which can spoil the fun, but black comedy horror Ready or Not is one of the genre’s memorable standouts of 2019. Combining suspense and social satire, with a dash of heart thrown in for good measure, it’s a bloody treat.
64/ 100

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