Exclusive to Cathay Cinemas in Singapore, Ready or Not is an American black comedy horror film written by Guy Busick and R. Christopher Murphy. How they came up with the story idea was probably when one of them casually wondered, “What happens if your new in-laws want to kill you?” and the other corrected him, “What happens if your new too rich for their own good in-laws want to kill you to stay rich?” Boom, jackpot!

Really though, this movie is a wild ride from start to finish. Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olphin and Tyler Gillett, Ready or Not is about a new bride named Grace (Samara Weaving) who joins a family tradition game of hide and seek with her new husband Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien) and in-laws. But his family turns out not to be who they appear to be as they turn the game into a deadly one. Alex tries to help her survive the game but the others are adamant to find and kill her before dawn.

Despite getting all this from the trailer itself, I still gasped at the same moments I was already anticipating. But because of the way the mystery unravelled, it’s definitely worth watching the movie.

Warning: some spoilers ahead.

The plot

On their wedding night, Grace finds out that Alex’s family typically plays a game with the new member as a sort of welcome to the family. The Le Domas patriarch Tony (Henry Czerny) explains the tradition and the family history, particularly how the Le Domas family got their great wealth through business with the help of a benefactor named Mr Le Bail. Tony gives Grace a box supposedly given by Mr Le Bail that contains cards where each one states the name of the game. The card that gets drawn will be the game that the whole family will play. When Grace draws the ‘hide and seek’ card, some of the family members including Alex exchange worried glances. Even Tony seems reluctant but the game starts as planned, giving Grace a 100-second headstart to find a hiding place. Being a very traditional family, they even turn off all the security cameras in the house to make it a fair game (lulz).

And that’s when things go downhill. After hiding inside a dumbwaiter for a while, Grace starts to think this is all silly and decides to concede defeat so she leaves to find the rest of them. But when she reunites with Alex, he quickly tells her that the game is about finding her so that they can make her a sacrifice for some demonic ritual, effectively killing her. Initially, she thinks it’s a joke but when she sees one of the housemaids get shot dead by one of the family members, she realises that Alex is telling the truth.

For the rest of the film, it becomes a heart-pounding game of cat and mouse. Grace gets found, narrowly escapes, hurts herself, gets found again and narrowly escapes again. Yup, she would keep running into either her in-laws or the housemaids several times and each time, they would sabotage her by screaming for the others and disclosing her location. It was both funny and terrifying at the same time.

In the end, after surviving a gory hand injury and nasty car accident, Grace somehow makes it in one piece. Unfortunately, her escape plan is thwarted when Alex suddenly turns on her as he fears that she would leave him after this. The family then prepares to sacrifice Grace in the ritual but it’s Daniel who also flips sides and poisons his own family to give Grace a window of opportunity to escape. Yet it’s all too late when Mr Le Bail ends up wiping out everyone in epic exploding mists of blood, leaving only Grace to safely leave the house and wait for the police.

The takeaway

What’s interesting was that Grace had three allies before the game: Alex, his brother Daniel (Adam Brody) and their mother Becky (Andie MacDowell. Yet when the game starts, Daniel and Becky don’t hesitate to capture her. As for the other family members like Alex’s sister Emilie (Melanie Scrofano), her husband Fitch (Kristian Bruun), Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni), Daniel’s spouse Charity, they also readily participate in the game but show a great lack of empathy when doing so. Then there’s the terrified housemaid who claims innocence but sabotages Grace anyway and Emilie’s son who is the embodiment of innocence for being a child and actually tracks down Grace himself and shoots at her without hesitation.

After the game finally ends, only Daniel came through for Grace despite flipping sides twice. But because he eventually listens to his good conscience, he ends up on the ‘good side’ while the rest don’t. This is probably a satire of how some rich people have no moral compass as they tend to do what they like.

Another knock on the rich is through the characters of Emilie and Fitch. Emilie is a cocaine user who is very trigger-happy despite not knowing how to use weapons and is actually clumsy handling them. Whereas Fitch is a seemingly nice guy on the outside but is either naive or has no empathy inside. Both represent pretty shady types of rich people.

Alex and Becky are probably the most dangerous of the lot because of how they behave when backed into the corner. Alex lets his fear of being alone push him over the edge and turn on Grace in the end while Becky pretends to care for her in the beginning but ends up backstabbing her during the game.

Ironically, the only Le Domas member who stays true to herself the whole time is Aunt Helene (lady in purple in above picture). She also serves as the key figure in the foreshadowing of the diabolical truth of the family.

Overall, the movie does a very good job at foreshadowing all of it, starting with Aunt Helene’s constant scowl and sudden interruption during Grace and Alex’s alone time.

The film also successfully builds that lead-up to the deadly game with some characters trading weird looks and behaving extra perky and happy, a few board games with the devil’s face with the name Le Bail on them, the game room covered in hunting weapons on display next to animal heads and the most obvious, a poster of “Le Bail’s Gambit” game.

Overall, it’s a fun movie to watch. There’s nothing special or unique about the plot as it uses existing tropes, but it is written cleverly with a satisfying conclusion. Plus, it’s got some good chuckle-worthy moments.

TL;DR

The Good
– Thrilling game of cat and mouse during the hunt
– Clever script with funny satirical moments
– Great cast
– Definitive conclusion (cliffhangers for a movie like this is a strict no-no!)

The Bad
– Nothing special or unique about the plot
– Typical Western horror with weird rich people and deals with the devil
– Not for people looking for a good scare or who take themselves too seriously

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