It’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt. The dark comedy Ready or Not centers around a young couple: Alex (Mark O’Brien) and Grace (Samara Weaving) on their wedding day. The former hails from a filthy rich household, the Le Domas gaming dynasty. The latter, raised as a foster child, craves for a family. From the Le Domas clan, Graces senses coldness and hostility. She believes her meager background and short relationship (her and Alex have only dated for 18 months) accounts for the family’s side-eyed glances at her. But Alex knows a sinister secret about his troublesome family, one that threatens the safety of Grace.
The Le Domas “dominion,” as they preferred to be called, is all about tradition. On weddings, one ritual calls for the new entry into the family to draw a card from a box and play whatever game is written. Grace, unwittingly, pulls the worst card. She must play hide and seek. When she wanders off to conceal herself, she doesn’t know the Le Domas family are a bunch of incompetent, cut throat, and hopelessly apathetic individuals; there’s Alex’s empathetic mother Becky (Andie MacDowell) his quick-tempered father Tony (Henry Czerny) his conniving Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni) and his cynical alcoholic brother Daniel (Adam Brody) who offers the nearest thing to a fully realized character other than Grace. The Le Domas clan are the type of people who read Paradise Lost to their children as bedtime stories, and complain about flying commercial.
Their wealth began when their great grandfather began printing playing cards, their grandfather expanded to board games, and the current patriarch Tony began buying up sports franchises. They’re also into big game hunting, evinced by their private room filled with guns, crossbows, and axes. They divvy up these weapons among themselves and scour the mansion to find Grace for the purposes of wounding her and then sacrificing her in a satanic ritual before dawn.
Grace isn’t at a complete disadvantage. There are rules to the game: Every tool used to hunt her must be traditional—they can use bow-and-arrows, but not surveillance cameras. And as his family wanders throughout the mansion, Alex must decide whether to follow tradition and his clan or help his bride.
For her part, Samara Weaving as Grace is incredibly amiable and charismatic. She makes you like her without acting like a dunce. Her wish to belong somewhere creates pathos, and her comedic flair abounds. She also succeeds in the physicality of the role—dumped into a pit of rotting goats, grappling with butlers, and toting an elephant gun. Saying someone is primed for stardom usually feels cliche, but with Weaving the description surely fits. Her charming performance easily shines in this darkly tale.
Ready or Not isn’t particularly nuanced. In fact, the film often leans too heavily into portraying the dynamics between mostly static characters. While it follows in the tradition of Get Out, centering around a relatively innocent protagonist brought into a blood-thirsty fold, the film has far less to say politically. The main action of the dark comedy hinges on “rich people are more screwy than we are.” Nevertheless, it does upend the usual trope of bubbly women immediately turned into killing machines. And as individual family members watch crossbow tutorials on Youtube or flip a coin to decide who carries the head or legs of a dead body, and many do pile up, the dark comedy rises to a gory conclusion while still retaining the internal fortitude of its lead character.