Every family has its traditions — the little things relatives do in order to carry forward notions of the past into the future.
Where things tend to get tricky is when someone marries in. Suddenly, it’s not about one clan’s traditions, but two. If you’re lucky, personalities click, and there’s nothing but wine and roses. If not, it can feel like a slow, agonizing ride through hell.
In the case of newlywed Grace (Samara Weaving, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), it’s a literal case of life or death as her new relatives, the Le Domas, put her through a lethal rendition of hide-and-seek. Written by Guy Busick and R. Christopher Murphy and directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, Ready or Not zeroes in on what makes any family event uncomfortable and amps it to 11, eviscerating the affluent and challenging the very notion of tradition, all while featuring a kick-ass protagonist.
Comparable to the way Game Night turned tabletop contests into high stakes with heart, Ready or Not takes the creativity and cleverness of a stealth pastime and upends it, turning it cruel and vicious. Gratefully, the filmmakers craft a story that doesn’t focus on violence as something to be adored, but as an irritating byproduct of wealth. It’s a thing that must be done because it has always been done, and it’s always been done a certain way. Not to uphold the tradition would be a greater tragedy than the violence itself — or so the story tells us.
Therein lies the best part of Ready or Not, and it’s the part that makes Grace’s stand against her in-laws so rewarding: Are the Le Domas satisfying a bloodlust, or is there a larger plan at work? You’ll have to play the game to find out.
Read the full review at elementsofmadness.com