REVIEW: 'Ready or Not' is a nail-biting chase to the death with murderous in-laws

Teng Yong Ping
Lifestyle Editor
Samara Weaving as the beleaguered in-law in "Ready or Not". (Photo: Eric Zachanowich/Twentieth Century Fox)

SINGAPORE — If you’ve ever had any anxieties about meeting your new in-laws after marrying, Ready or Not taps into those fears and multiplies them a hundredfold. This little indie horror flick from Fox Searchlight Pictures puts a newly wed bride, Grace (Samara Weaving), in the worst possible situation she could find herself in. At the stroke of midnight on her wedding day, her new extended family sets a macabre game in motion, where they hunt her with an assortment of deadly weapons.

Grace has just gotten hitched to Alex (Mark O’Brien), a scion of the fabulously wealthy Le Domas family. The Le Domases’s riches are connected to a dark and secret family tradition that occasionally ends in the untimely death of new additions to the household. She is told that she must pick a game at random from among a list of mostly harmless games, save for a twisted version of hide-and-seek which will end very, very badly for her. Of course, that is the very game she picks – and the hunt is on.

It’s an absurd situation and an absurd premise, but the Le Domases’ reasons are gradually revealed as the chase unfolds. From patriarch to siblings-in-law, some of them are more enthusiastic than others about the prospect of killing their relative.Their weapons of choice include a crossbow, shotgun, pocket pistol and battle axe. Be warned that it gets pretty bloody and violent, and not just for Grace.

(Left to right) The Le Domas family, played by Kristian Bruun, Melanie Scrofano, Andie MacDowell, Henry Czerny, Nicky Guadagni, Adam Brody, and Elyse Levesque. (Photo: Eric Zachanowich/Twentieth Century Fox)

Weaving, who bears a striking resemblance to fellow Aussie star, Margot Robbie, turns in a great performance as her character Grace runs from her stalkers and fights back (with some help from her husband Alex, who understandably doesn’t want his new wife killed at the hands of his family).

Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, and executive producer Chad Villella of indie production house Radio Silence, made their name with YouTube shorts blending horror and comedy, but their brand of humour doesn’t quite translate in a feature-length Hollywood production.

While Ready or Not is marketed as a horror-comedy by Fox Searchlight Pictures, it’s simply not really funny, though it delivers thrills in spades. You can enjoy the film as a wacky horror flick, but its attempts at dark humour just don’t register.

It’s tempting to compare Ready or Not with Get Out, the breakout film of 2017, which was also a horror film about meeting a spouse’s creepy family. But whereas Get Out was a sophisticated commentary on race relations, Ready or Not is content with simply bringing you on a ride with a woman being chased by murderous relatives. I thought the film would offer some thoughts on the class divide and the relationship between the haves and the have-nots, but it’s not interested in social commentary. It’s just nail-biting entertainment, and it’s great if you’re just looking for a popcorn film to check your brain out at the door.

Ready or Not opens in cinemas in Singapore on 22 August 2019, exclusively at The Cathay Cineplexes.