Reel Shorts | Ready or Not

by Monica Hayes

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s Ready or Not is more of a gory dark comedy than a true horror movie.

Ready or Not opens up on what should be the most glorious and happiest day of any couple’s life – their wedding day. Grace (Samara Weaving) is excited and anxious about marrying and spend the rest of her life with Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien) and finally have the family she never had. Never mind that his family has made millions off of board games and other various lucrative adventures, Grace just wants to love Alex and be part of his family. However, the Le Domas family is not too happy with the couple’s rushed nuptials and have doubts about Grace. Well, doubt is putting it mildly, they flat out hate her. During the wedding, the blank stares, and the evil side-eyes were plenty. Especially from Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni) who sits in the front row with a vampiric scowl that would rival Nosferatu himself.

Now Mr. and Mrs. Alex Le Domas its time for the honeymoon right? Well, not with this family. Alex tells Grace his family has a strange tradition that all newcomers must participate in – family game night. The games could be anything from Old Maid to checkers or chess, nothing too serious. Down with game night with the new in-laws, Grace is all for it. She even boasts that she is a mean checker player.

Everyone gathers in the game room where the head patriarch, Tony (Henry Czerny) regales Grace and the rest of the family of how great grandfather was given a mysterious puzzle box to solve and if he solved it, the stranger, Mr. Le Bail would finance any and all future ventures. While he told the story, he placed a blank playing card into the box and stated that whatever game was printed on it that would be the game they would play. Grace opened the box and low behold the name of the game was Hide and Seek. Alex’s face dropped in despair. The only rule is, that she must last until dawn. Grace is given to the count of 100 to hide, then the family would look for her. What she did not know was this was no ordinary game of Hide and Seek, and that the family will hunt for her armed with guns, bow and arrows, crossbows and axes. Grace was in for the game of her life – literally.

What makes Ready or Not more funny than scary is that no one in the family is a hardened killer. They are more a bunch of bumbling idiots that have no clue. To give an example just how far removed they are, one family member searches YouTube videos on how to use a crossbow. Others are so drunk and high off cocaine that the slightest glace of movement garners closed eye erratic shots hitting everything thing but the intended target. Screenwriters Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy have taken family game night and turned it into a funny, disturbing, no holds barred of survival. Whether this was intended or not, Ready or Not is more funny than scary.

The cast was pretty on point here. Audiences will route for Weaving as she quickly realizes that she is being hunted and has a mean right cross. Guadagni’s Aunt Helene is an evil and bitter woman but still has moments where she will have you in tears. Other family members, Emily (Melanie Scrofano) and hubby Fitch (Kristian Bruun), older brother Daniel (Adam Brody) and Becky (Andie MacDowell) all shared in the mishaps and laughs.

Overall, Ready or Not is an A-movie in B-movie clothing. From the storyline to the cast, to the gore and buckets of blood and a very satisfying ending, it is definitely a sleeper that is worth checking out.

Grade: B