Ready or Not

Ready or Not ★★★½

When you choose to marry someone, you're not just aligning yourself with that person, you are grafting yourself onto their family tree as well. That means you are making yourself privy to all the secrets their family holds, all of their inside jokes and odd little rituals. Like a cult, every family has their little rituals. Most of those rituals are innocuous. For example, my wife's family played more board games than anyone I had previously known.

Games factor heavily into Grace's (Samara Weaving) husband's family as well. This isn't surprising since the Le Domas family is a wealthy empire built on board games, its roots dating back to before the Civil War. So it's slightly odd that they require every new member of their family to play a game at midnight of their wedding night but not completely out-of-nowhere. The new member draws a card that tells what game must be played. The new member must then play that game, no matter what, or there are consequences (I think they simply get kicked out of the family but, well, who knows). When Grace picks a card for "Hide and Seek", it seems innocent enough. But she soon discovers the stakes of this game could not be higher and the consequences could not be more intense.

"Ready or Not" has a good premise and a game cast. It was nice to see Andie MacDowell again, as the matriarch of the Le Domas clan, as well as the always-ominous Henry Czerny (it's been over 20 years but I'm still thinking of his sinister line deliveries to Tom Cruise in the original "Mission: Impossible") as the patriarch. Adam Brody is quite good as Grace's alcoholic new brother-in-law as well. But it's Samara Weaving who really steals the show as Grace. She is resourceful and tenacious and properly terrified and incredulous about what she has unexpectedly gotten herself into. She's a top notch horror heroine, one of the best in recent memory, and I thoroughly enjoyed her here.

However, "Ready or Not" feels like an admittedly clever hybrid of "You're Next" and "Cabin in the Woods". It covers a lot of the same ground as those two films and, therefore, holds little in the way of surprises as far as I'm concerned. I liked both of those movies more than this one, but I still enjoyed this one. I would have liked it to feel a bit more original and unique in story and structure and the "Rich people are awful" theme has been done to death and better (in the afore-mentioned "You're Next", for instance) but it's still a theme that I agree with.

"Ready or Not", despite feeling slightly derivative, is still a lot of fun. I enjoyed it. It has a fantastic final line and image. But I wished it had held more surprises and gone a bit further, that it hadn't played its hand quite so early (I agree with my wife that they could have delayed the consequences of the game a bit longer to amplify the suspense). Still, Samara Weaving gives a star-worthy performance and the movie is worth watching for that, if nothing else (and there are plenty of other reasons to give it a look).

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