Published on August 21st, 2019 | by Michael Newman0
Ready Or Not
I’ve always loved playing games, board games, role playing games, computer games…whatever. I remember as a kid most of the games we played were played outside, whether it was a game of capture the flag, tag, or the always entertaining game of Hide and Seek. All the games I have ever played have been played in fun, with no real stakes involved outside of maybe some pride or some friendly competition. What if there was more at stake than simply having to sit out the game for the rest of the time? What if hiding and surviving until dawn was the only way you were going to live to see the next day? I don’t know about you, but I’d make sure it was the best game of Hide and Seek I’d ever played, or it would end up being my last. Ready or Not, a dark comedy from Fox Searchlight (now Walt Disney Studios) and directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, explores what happens when a ruthless business man sells his soul to the devil for the sake of a board game empire.
Early on we are introduced to Grace. She spent her childhood bouncing from foster home to foster home, wanting a family but just never quite getting one. When she finally finds the man of her dreams Alex (Mark O’Brien) who also is one of the heirs to a giant gaming empire, she believes that all her longing for a family, even one as messed up as his, is finally paying off. Not long after the wedding it is revealed that part of the tradition to joining the family is to play a game. Alex reassures her that the game could be something as simple as checkers or possibly as complex as chess. He doesn’t know as it’s up to a special box, imbued with mystical powers that selects the game that she will be forced to play.
Upon placing the card in the box, and withdrawing it, three little words are inscribed upon it…Hide and Seek. Thinking this is simply a game, and with no further instructions, the family puts on the Hide and Seek record and begin counting to 100. Once the count is up, weapons are handed out to the “seekers” and the game begins.
Not long after finding her hiding spot, Grace quickly becomes bored of playing and comes out admitting defeat. It is only after a series of unfortunate events resulting in the deaths of some of the key players does Grace finally understand that this family plays for keeps. With the help of an unlikely ally from Alex’s brother Daniel (Adam Brody), she not only is given an opportunity to survive the night, but also learns of the pact with the devil that was made which allowed the family to acquire its great fortune. Unless they can satisfy the curse, the entire family will not live to see the sunrise.
Ready or Not takes an outstanding cast and provides them with an equally fantastic setting. Andie MacDowell portrays the creepy mother-in-law Becky, along with her equally creepy and even more unhinged husband Tony (Henry Czerny). Each character plays out their roles in the most over-the-top performances imaginable, an they pull them off more believably then I think they even had intended. Whether its Kristian Bunn as the bumbling Fitch, who is forced to YouTube how to use a crossbow and googles whether pacts with the devil are real or BS…or Elyse Levesque as the stoic Charity, who has absolutely no problem killing someone, if it means she gets to maintain her lavish lifestyle. The cast is truly what pulls the movie off, with their ability to take the absurdity and make it almost feel normal.
Ready or Not does have the occasional jump scare and is literally coated in blood throughout, but it’s the dark comedy that really sets this movie apart from many that have come before it. I don’t know if it’s wrong to laugh at things that should be completely taboo as much as I did. Ready or Not tries to make you think it’s serious, even when you know it is intentionally not. While some of the dialog might fall a bit flat, you’d be hard pressed to notice between your bursts of laughter. You know a movie does something right, when you find yourself quoting it not only immediately after it finishes, but into the next day (and at this rate probably beyond).
Ready or Not is a fun film, that’s the best way to describe it. It’s gruesome and of course violent, but it doesn’t take itself seriously and asks the same of the audience. There have been other movies who have taken this genre too seriously in the past, and lead to mixed results. Ready or Not wants you to laugh at its absurdity and take glee in the events that take place. Based on the individual characters, it’s amazing that the family has survived as long as it has…must be because that card doesn’t come up very often. If you are looking for a fun film, one that you want to laugh at (and with) you could certainly do worse than Ready or Not. It is one of the best dark comedies to come out in years, and it makes me long for the days when movies were still unique and weren’t simply attempting to reboot everything.
4 out of 5 stars