We were due for an update of The Most Dangerous Game, an often forgotten gem from 1932 involving Count Zaroff and his favorite thing to hunt. Ready or Not is a very modern film, often commenting on the 1%, but it owes a lot to that film from the 1930s as well as many films from the 1970s. There are some obvious references to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre for example. While some of its elements are better than others, it is a type of hard-R horror comedy we don't see enough of. Horror fans should run out to see this.
Samara Weaving is the film's MVP. Playing Grace, who is about to marry Alex (Mark O'Brien) and join his twisted family, Weaving gives a star-making performance. She has been great in smaller horror films such as Mayhem and The Babysitter but here she shines so bright that Hollywood better notice. The family that Grace is marrying into is the Le Domases, a rich and powerful family that has an unusual commitment to tradition. The tradition requires anyone new to the family to draw a card and play the game on it. Some games are harmless, like checkers. However, Grace picks the one card that Alex has been dreading, hide and seek. This is no ordinary game of hide and seek as the Le Domases believe they must find Grace and ritualistically kill her to maintain their wealth and stay alive.
The family is led by Becky (Andie MacDowell) and Tony (Henry Czerny) but the real keeper of traditions is Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni). The rest of the family doesn't get much attention or development aside from Alex's alcoholic brother (Adam Brody). Brody gives a solid performance as someone caught between family members.
While this absurd plot could come off as thin, screenwriters Guy Busick and R Christopher Murphy do a good job about playing with Alex's loyalty to Grace or his family. We also get to see which members buy into the supernatural forces behind the game and those that just don't want to piss off mommy and daddy. This helps keep things interesting even when the filmmaking falters a bit.
Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett keep an urgent pace to the film but never really capitalize on the film's wonderful setting. The giant mansion of the Le Domas family should allow for some great set pieces. However, the directors often relegate the action to hallways and bland rooms. The film is influenced by Adam Wingard's You're Next but it never has the same setup and pay-off dynamic.
Regardless, that is a minor gripe for what is a fun and frenetic film. Weaving makes everything work, even when it doesn't because she is so damn likable. The weak commentary on the rich and the occasional blunder don't hamper her wonderful performance that mixes humor, pain, and badass redemption.