By Troy Ribeiro
"Ready Or Not"; Cast: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O'Brien, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell; Direction: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett; Rating: *** and 1/2 (three and half stars)
There is something appealing about this not-so-hyped black comedy designed as a stalk and slaughter, comic-horror thriller. Despite its predictable plot and flimsy end, it is entertaining. The film keeps you engaged throughout its 97 minutes runtime.
The simple, well-told story takes place within the estate of the weird but super-rich Le Domas family, who made their millions through a Gaming Empire.
The narrative follows Grace (Samara Weaving), the newly-wed young bride of the Le Domas' younger son, the prodigal Alex (Mark O'Brien).
Raised by foster parents, Grace craves for a permanent family that she can call her own. It is poignant to watch her accept Alex's clan, none of whom exhibit close to normal behaviour.
After the wedding celebrations and once the guests have left, Grace is informed of the time-honoured family tradition where the newly wedded in-law is forced into playing a midnight game with the family. The selection of the game comes from the instructions mentioned on the card that is drawn from a pack by the family's newly inducted member.
Enthused to be a part of the family, and despite Alex's reluctance, Grace agrees to partake in this tradition. She picks up a card that states, 'Hide-n-seek'. She is thence told she must hide from all other members of the family till sunrise.
Soon, however, she learns to her horror that the game is actually deadly and perverse. Her in-laws are armed, and are hunting her down to kill her.
During the course of the game, she is told if she is not killed before sunrise, the Le Domas family would perish, because of a pact signed by one of their ancestors with the Devil. And since Grace has no other option, she turns the table and begins the competition for the survival of the fittest.
Samara Weaving with her expressive eyes and beaming with energy gives a breakout performance as Grace. She shines in her act. She is vulnerable, deadpan funny, scared and resolute in an absolutely tricky role.
Weaving is aptly supported by a talented and interesting cast as who play out the Le Domas Family, including Mark O'Brien as her husband Alex, Andy MacDowell as Alex's mother, Adam Brody as Alex's older brother Daniel, Henry Czerny as Alex's father. But it is the spiky-haired Nicky Guadagni with a quasi-fantastical tone, as Alex's blood-thirsty and dowager Aunt Helene that stands out.
Overall, this is a well-plotted film that brilliantly mixes suspense, scares, violent set pieces, gore and humour that comprises of missed aims and sarcastic dialogues.