Ready or not, movie-goers! Ready or Not successfully marries horror with a slight tinge of humor, just enough to take the edge off a really violent film that rates about 5 on the Quentin Tarantino Blood Splatter Scale.
Not for the squeamish, or for anyone looking for a serious film, Ready or Not is a well-written survival story that pits a resourceful, independent young woman against a pack of vicious in-laws.
Grace (Samara Weaving, a young woman with huge saucer- shaped eyes out of a manga comic book) marries into the hyper-rich Le Domas family, which built a fortune on board games. She quickly learns that the family is also a pack of sadistic murderers who select victims from among men and women wishing to marry into the clan.
The family believes that such a sacrifice is needed to appease Satan, who has given the family its wealth—with a cost, of course.
Weaving is the standout actor in the film, as she fights off the members of her new family including coked-out women with poor shooting skills, a narcissistic father-in-law, a bloodthirsty aunt and other plain old crazies. But a hero is only as good as the villains, and she has plenty.
Henry Czerny, as the patriarch Tony Le Domas, is particularly sinister, desperate to beat the devil with yet another sacrifice. His zeal causes the more rational family members to question his sanity and this whole Satanic deal nonsense.
Elderly Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni) is a standout as she happily wields a Viking axe and hopes to be the one to chop off the head of the interloper. She’s still angry that her new husband was the last sacrifice decades earlier.
Adam Brody plays the same sarcastic, smarmy character as he did in the television show “The O.C.,” a crucial role in the film.
Directors Matt Bettinelli-Oplin and Tyler Gillet make full use of the single set, an opulent mansion with the requisite hidden passages, to build the suspense as Weaving realizes that this family’s idea of Hide and Seek is fatal to the loser.
The L.A. Times calls it a combination of The Most Dangerous Game, Rosemary’s Baby, and Heathers, and they are right on target.
Weaving never falls prey to the elite fighter syndrome like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill or Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman. Her method of fighting is more of the breathless desperation and “hit the bad guy with anything she can reach” variety.
The female empowerment message is as clear as the hate-the-rich subtext, but both work in context.
The film, justifiably rated R, opens today.
Michael Sangiacomo, whose pretty sure he’s met people like the Le Domas at political functions, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.