“Ready or Not” is a gleefully dark film that relishes in its motifs and delights in its own black humor. Part action movie, part character study, and part straight-up bloodbath, “Ready or Not” is difficult to define. While it never fully capitalizes on any of these parts and ultimately fails to ascend to greatness, I was more than pleased with the film by its end. I’m a sucker for dark humor, and the final scene of this film is one of the darkest endings in recent memory
The plot of the film revolves around a bride, Grace, played by Samara Weaving. On her wedding night, she fights for acceptance from her new husband’s estranged family and for her life. Then, it is revealed that seemingly harmless family traditions are lethal rituals designed to garner the favor of a supernatural power. The traditions and history of the family is slowly revealed as the film progresses, and each revelation is less and less subtle about the purpose of the rituals and the entity the family is trying to appease.
The gradual hinting about the sinister nature of the groom’s family comes amidst a deadly game of hide and seek that frequently turns both comical and terrifying. With each death and close call, the stakes get ratcheted up as both the hunters and the hunted get closer to extinction.
The film fully embraces its quirky, peculiar plot and allows audiences to be swept up in the story despite its ridiculous nature. Everything about this movie is bold, and its attitude never questions its own premise. By the time the violence starts (and it starts pretty quickly), I had no problem believing that an entire family would start rampaging through the halls of their ancient mansion with centuries-old weaponry trying to brutally murder the new bride of their own kin in the name of some vaguely understood, half-believed ritual. The film is unwavering in its ridiculousness, and is more amazing for it.
But, none of the hilarious and horrifying scenes would be possible without the cast members, each of whom did an excellent job. Weaving was a force to be reckoned with as the mild-mannered bride turned Rambo. Mark O’Brien, Adam Brody, Andie MacDowell and Henry Czerny delivered great performances as the groom, his brother, their mother and father, respectively. In fact, the film’s main flaw is that it underuses O’Brien, who spent most of his time locked in a room by himself after refusing to participate in the murder of his new wife. On the other hand, the meaningful development of Brody’s character is one of the film’s strengths.
“Ready or Not” is a surprising film, not for its plot, nor humor, nor its character revelations, but for its tenacity. It’s a film that knows it’s bizarre and chooses to embrace it. It never questions itself, it never falters and it’s funny as hell.