In this crowded fall slate of high profile releases, it’s easy to miss hearing about the little gems. That may end up being the case with the dark comedy horror, READY OR NOT, which is being released here this week opposite at least six other new films including such Oscar-buzzed films, AD ASTRA and PAIN AND GLORY. The bottom line here is you shouldn’t miss it. READY OR NOT is a wickedly funny romp.
It’s the wedding day of Grace (Samara Weaving, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI) and Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien, BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE; THE DARKEST MINDS; ARRIVAL), and the guests are assembling on the lawn at the Le Domas estate for the ceremony. The wealthy Le Domases have made their fortune in gaming, from simple board games to, now, owning four professional sports teams. None of that fazes Grace though. She’s just happy to be marrying the man she loves. Alex, though, seems less sure and he tries to give Grace a last-minute out. She won’t hear of it and the wedding goes off without a hitch. Later that evening, Grace is informed that it’s a family tradition to welcome a new member into the Le Domas family by playing a game together. Grace is up for it, especially when she draws a card that says “Hide and Seek”. Alex’s father, Tony (Henry Czerny, TV’s REVENGE), tells her that all she has to do is hide until dawn and she wins. No problem, she thinks, as the Le Domas mansion is huge with plenty of rooms and hidden passageways. The problem, though, which she quickly learns, is that this isn’t just any game and her in-laws aren’t your typical gamesters. With the eccentric Le Domases, the family that plays together slays together, and on this night, Grace is the one they’re looking to slay.
READY OR NOT intentionally plays out much like a realised version of the board game Clue with multiple themed rooms and delightfully old-school weapons like a crossbow and a battle axe. No doubt in a nod to the popular board game, there’s a candlestick and a revolver in play too. But rather than having the audience guess who killed the victim, READY OR NOT turns Clue on its head and lets us watch while the players accidentally take each other out with their various weapons while trying to kill Grace. For her part, Grace isn’t going to go down without a fight and she proves to be a worthy adversary as the clock ticks on to dawn.
There’s never a dull moment in the film’s compact, 95-minute running time and the mostly Canadian cast is uniformly wonderful at playing it straight. Weaving is fabulous in a role that could easily have been one-dimensional but she shows us that while Grace has class – certainly more than her new, super-rich sisters-in-law, she’s also not afraid to get down and dirty if she has to. My only disappointment with the film comes from its very heavy use of the F-word once the game gets going. Of course, if I was in a similar situation, I’d probably use that word a lot too, but for a script, I would have liked to have heard a wider variety of verbal reactions than just that one.
All in all though, READY OR NOT is an absolute gem. Definitely make some time in the next few weeks to see it!
Watch the review recorded on Facebook Live on Friday, September 27th, 8:30 am HK time!
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