From the premise alone, ‘Ready or Not’ immediately presents itself as left-of-center, out of the box suspense comedy where you wouldn’t be expected to take anything too seriously. Afterall, the story of a young woman marrying into a family and then finding herself in a deadly game of hide and seek demands quite a lot of suspension of disbelief. The trailer already gives the game away, we know that her wedding night will be spent trying to escape her in-laws who are out to kill her.
We sit back in our seats and expect laughs and a whole lot of carnage.
The film doesn’t disappoint. In the first few minutes, we are introduced to Grace, played by the wonderfully committed Samara Weaving, and her husband-to-be Alex, played by Mark O’Brien. The film does away with the usual “you can’t see the bride before the wedding” cliches as their brief discussion reveals all we need to know about the couple. He’s from a very wealthy family, whom he cannot stand, and we believe he loves her; even if we know what he’s about to put her through.
We are introduced to the crazy Le Domas family and are quickly taken into the family tradition of playing a game to properly initiate the family’s latest addition. And then, chaos ensues.
As it is, the film offers a healthy serving of laughs and thrills and brutal violence that is as comedic as it is bloody and gory. It tries to get through all the necessary exposition as quickly as it can without taking short cuts so it can bring us straight into the action.
It’s an amazingly fun set up for hilarious character moments. From Alex’s sister, Emilie (Melanie Scrofano), who is as high as a kite, to Andie MacDowell’s fascinating performance as Alex’s mother, who empathizes with Grace but is still willing to kill her for the family’s sinister ends.
It also has a lot of heart in the form of Alex and his relationship to his brother, Daniel, played by a charming Adam Brody.
But at the heart of all this mayhem, right underneath the first layer of macabre comedy, is a social commentary on class. Despite its tongue-in-cheek story and storytelling, ‘Ready or Not’ also becomes a biting satire on the excesses of the magnificently wealthy and their evil quirks that keeps them in power.
The Le Domas family is portrayed as flawed humans who would go as far as murder to keep their family’s wealth, which is the purpose of this deadly family tradition. They have moments of conflict with what they are doing but they are also deeply invested in their own comfort and the trappings of luxury.
Funnily enough, as seen on the trailer, one of the household help accidentally becomes a victim to this lethal game and the family express regret and loss but continue on anyway.
Many of the La Domas family in-laws come from middle class or even lower, and we have hints that Grace is not anywhere near their social standing. This view of the La Domas family as being above everybody else is very telling to what the film is saying about the extravagantly wealthy. So while we laugh and jump from our seats from the comedy and the hyper-real acts of violence, we are also reacting to a clever satire about how our world operates.
Like Grace, like the household help in the La Domas’ household, we are all just playthings for the sick games of the rich. And that’s where we find another layer of joy and anger in the film that unfolds before us.
And at the very center of it is a magnificent performance from Samara Weaving, who is driven to her most primal state by the dehumanizing game she is forced to play. Even when the film goes way beyond the bounds of what we can accept as real at its explosive end, we are beyond disbelief because at its very core, we know what ‘Ready or Not’ is telling us is very, very true.