Film Review: READY OR NOT (USA 2019)

Ready or Not Poster
A bride’s wedding night takes a sinister turn when her eccentric new in-laws force her to take part in a terrifying game.

From a script by Guy Busick and R. Christopher Murphy READY OR NOT is a horror black comedy directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett that serves to amuse but ultimately disappoints.  An example of a film that closest follows READY OR NOT is Jonathan Lynn’s 1985 CLUE based on the board game.

READY OR NOT (the phase conned from the game hide-and-seek) follows Grace (Aussie Samara Weaving), a young bride who joins her new husband Alex Le Domas (Canadian Mark O’Brien) and his rich, eccentric family led by the patriarch (Henry Czerbny) and the mother (Andie MacDowell) playing a game of deadly hide-and-seek, where her in-laws attempt to find her before dawn.   Grace is ‘it’.  The other members of the family are to find her.  The family are armed with an assortment of weapons like pistols, rifles and crossbows, the latter who many are still experimenting its usage.  When she realizes that the Le Domas family intends to hunt and kill her, she turns the one-sided hunt into a free-for-all, with everyone fighting for their survival.  As Alex goes against his family to help her, Grace discovers that the night is part of a diabolical ritual.  Why the ritual?  The reason given is that if the new member of the family is not killed by dawn, then each member of the family will be killed or destroyed instead by some form or other.  The ritual has worked in the past.  But this time around, it might not owing to Grace’s  resourcefulness.

The concept of READY OR NOT sounds solid but there is difficulty in translating it to film.  One flaw is the script which is little too ambitious to be credible on screen.  There are two twists in the story towards the end (which will not be revealed in this review) but both quite predictable.   It also takes quite a bit to believe what s happening at the end, as the film has nothing supernatural about it except during the ending.   The script is also limiting as it concerns family members playing hide-and-seek which means not many opportunity for many to be killed in a violent or gruesome way.  The only means the family killers are killed off in the film are by the weapons accidentally going off.

READY OR NOT, a low budget film looks more expensive on screen.  The film was shot mainly in Oshawa, a town close to Toronto with a cast of a number of Canadian actors including the roles of the groom and father.  The film should easily cover its cost in box-office receipts.

READY OR NOT ends up a little amusing time-waster though aspiring but never achieving the giddy heights of deliciously wicked horror-camp like the Italian Gallo films popularized by Dario Argento (OPERA, SUSPIRIA, BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE).

READY OR NOT has a Wednesday opening like many horror films and should pull in a decent box-office sum.