Ready or Not (2019)

Imagine this scenario. You just married the love of your life. You think it’s a little strange they forced you to do the wedding at their family’s home, considering they’re essentially estranged from their family, but they’re rich so it was a nice ceremony. The family doesn’t seem to accept you yet, but you’re given an opportunity to make nice with them. All you have to do is play a game at midnight on the day of the wedding, and they’ll accept you as one of their own. Also, if the game is hide and seek, they will try to murder you in order to satisfy the demands of a deal made with the devil several decades ago that led them to prosperity. No biggie!

That’s the premise we have here with Ready or Not, and the predicament that awaits Grace (Samara Weaving). She doesn’t know the latter part, but she’s about to find out. If she was randomly assigned any other game but Hide and Seek, she’d be fine. But since she didn’t—it feels predetermined in-universe—she now has to hide and fight for her life. If she makes it until dawn, she wins. If she doesn’t, well, you can probably figure out what’ll happen.

What we have here is a horror-thriller-black comedy mixture set exclusively in one location and following a small group of people who are (usually) looking for murder. Some of the family members intermittently get a little queasy at the idea of killing someone, which leads to some fun heel and face turns as the film goes on, but more often than not it’s pretty much exactly what I just described for a little over 90 minutes. It reminded me a lot of You’re Next, both in terms of plot and tone. And You’re Next is wonderful. So is Ready or Not.

There are a number of reasons why both movies work but that black comedy aspect I mentioned is one of them. Played straight, they might get a little dull. But by mixing in some pitch-black humor every now and then, we wind up getting little shocks to the system which freshen things up. The actual thrills are solid and built well, and the plot is just involved enough to keep things going. And, of course, our lead actor is game for everything thrown at them.

In this case, it’s Samara Weaving, whom I will posit deserves awards consideration when it’s time to tally those up at the end of the year. The character she’s playing isn’t deep enough to get them, but the performance divorced from the character is fantastic. She runs the gamut here and is compelling from start to finish. The other characters are more interesting—there are eccentricities and nuances to them that aren’t allowed of our Final Girl—but Weaving knocks what she’s given out of the park.

Ready or Not is a well-crafted thriller with touches of black comedy, decent action, interesting enough characters, and an engaging lead performance. It has enough twists and turns to keep us engaged, it’s solid on a technical level, and it doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s the kind of movie you could watch several times and enjoy it each time. There’s more to dissect than one might initially assume, and the occasionally shocking moments—both from a violence and comedy perspective—are delightful. It’s a good time.

Conclusion: Ready or Not is a solid and fun thriller.

Recommendation: If the premise sounds like your kind of thing, definitely seek out Ready or Not.

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