Fox Searchlight, home to smart adult specialty films and Best Picture Oscar winners, takes a complete left turn into genre with the often very funny, often very bloody new horror film Ready Or Not. I am not sure if Searchlight’s regular art house audience will be ready or not, but fans of this kind of thing are in for an end-of-summer treat — that is if you can handle all the gore.
Last year at this time we had a very memorable and romantic wedding in Crazy RIch Asians. This isn’t that. This is more like Four Funerals AT a Wedding, and then some. The prologue detailing past incidents at the Le Domas family abode gives us a clue early on, but completely clueless is the bride, Grace (Samara Weaving). She gives the marriage ultimatum to BF Alex (Mark O’Brien), who knows that weddings can be problematic in the family from which he comes. Nevertheless the big day arrives and all seems lovely — that is until the creepy in-laws give Grace a taste of their wedding plans, which basically consist of putting the bride through an initiation of sorts. Sitting around a large table with this gang who live in a castle that looks like something out of The Addams Family, they ask Grace to pick a game card. Unfortunately for her she pulls from the deck the Hide And Seek card, the most ominous choice of all as we and she will discover. Yet she remains clueless and plays along, running off in her white wedding dress to somehow hide from this clan.
Meanwhile, looney patriarch Tony (Henry Czerny) hands out some scary looking, very old weapons — including axes and crossbows, the kind their ancestors used in this long-standing Le Domas wedding tradition — and the “hunt” is on. It is only a matter of time before Grace figures out that her new family is out to kill her. However, for reasons that become apparent later, they only want to capture her in order to put her through the hellish “ritual” they have in store. The devil is in the details in this movie that has a bit of Rosemary’s Baby meets And Then There Were None to any number of contemporary movies of this ilk that know no limits to violent demises. New husband Alex seems genuinely concerned and tries to talk the family out of it, but they have deep-seated fears and reasons for completing the task. Along the way, they manage to shoot themselves in the foot as it were.
Thanks to a game cast that takes none of this seriously, I laughed all the way through this freak fest. Weaving, a dead ringer for Margot Robbie, is the perfect innocent victim who has to become the ultimate survivor. Andie MacDowell brings her best Morticia to the party as the mother. Adam Brody is brooding and fun as the outcast brother Daniel, but best of all is the completely bonkers ax-wielding Aunt Helene played to the max by Nicky Guadagni. The whole group knows exactly how to play this and that is what makes it as much fun as it is. Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillette make the most of their surroundings and never lose the playful, if bloody, tone of the script from Guy Busick and R. Christopher Murphy. Producers are Bradley J. Fischer, William Sherak, James Vanderbilt and Tripp Vinson.
Fox Searchlight (via new home Disney) releases it Wednesday on about 2200 screens, moving to 2800 by the weekend. Check out my video review above which includes scenes from the film.
Do you plan to see Ready Or Not? Let us know what you think.
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