In recent years there has been an increase in the number of films taking place in the mansions of extremely wealthy families, and they are often the villains of the narrative. It wasn’t long ago that the wealthy family of You’re Next suffered a home invasion plot, and we recently saw these same themes with the successful murder-mystery Knives Out. And earlier this year was the horror-comedy, Ready or Not. While Knives Out takes the social commentary a step further by making the outsider protagonist an immigrant and lower class employee of the family, Ready or Not features a beautiful blonde bride who has just married into the family. If it weren’t for a supernatural deal with the devil, one can imagine that Ready or Not’s protagonist might have been welcomed into the villainous circle of wealth, which comes with the implication that it was built upon blood of those outside the family.
The film takes place on the wedding night of Grace (Samara Weaving) as she marries into a wealthy family whose fortune was made with board games. When her new husband, Alex (Mark O'Brien), informs Grace that the family has a wedding night tradition of playing a game, she accepts the strange request in hopes of pleasing her new in-laws (Henry Czerny and Andie MacDowell). What Grace doesn’t realize, is that the family believes that this ritual will keep them alive and in power, having created their fortune after a deal with the devil. And part of that deal requires that Grace be killed before the end of her wedding night.
Whether or not the curse is real or imagined goes unanswered for a majority of the film, though this makes little difference with the family willing to act upon it regardless. Grace is forced to hide within the walls of the massive mansion, in hopes that she can survive the night. Inevitably, she is found and must fight back against the entitled wealthy family she almost called her own. That even those unrelated by blood are more than willing to kill in order to retain their wealth and status says volumes about their character, and the themes of narrative during an era when the wealthiest seem to be the most distrusted.
Ready or Not is wise to amp up the humor elements in the narrative, particularly in the dialogue. Where the comedic elements become a bit much is in Weaving’s performance. It isn’t that humor needs to be reserved for supporting characters (although Adam Brody lands the most successful one-liners as the brother-of-the-groom), but the fact that Weaving seems to be trying just a bit too hard. She comes off as someone chewing scenery rather than the quirky cuteness that she seems to be going for. While it does make sense that Grace would have a bit more character than the upper-class counterparts, her high-energy weirdness is often more obnoxious than endearing. Although it would have altered the satirical elements, I can’t help but wonder what this film would have been like had the horror been taken a bit more seriously.
The Blu-ray release of Ready or Not comes with a digital copy of the film, along with a handful of bonus features. The highlight of the extras is a commentary track with Weaving and the three filmmakers known as Radio Silence (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, and Chad Villella), although there is also a making-of featurette and a gag reel.
Entertainment Value: 8/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6.5/10
Historical Significance: 6/10
Special Features: 6/10