Movie Review

Ready or Not hides the scares in search for comedy

Ready or Not hides the scares in search for comedy

When a movie comes out of nowhere to be a success, you can be sure other filmmakers or studios will try to find a way to copy that success. Sometimes they pay heed to what made the first movie work, but more often they merely try to get the flavor of the original so that audiences will think they’re going to get the same experience.

It’s obvious from the start that Ready or Not is trying to give the flavor of Get Out, as Grace (Samara Weaving) is set to marry Alex (Mark O’Brien) at the estate of his rich family. Some of the family, including mom Becky (Andie MacDowell), father Tony (Henry Czerny), and brother Daniel (Adam Brody), are welcoming, but there’s just something a bit off about all of them.

Grace finds out just how off-kilter they are when, post-wedding, the family gathers to play a game. An old family tradition with supernatural elements dictates that, should a new member of the family draw a card calling for them to play hide-and-seek, the family must kill the new member or risk death themselves. Unaware of their nefarious intentions at first, Grace soon catches on and does her best to defend herself.

Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett and writers Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy (no, not that Ryan Murphy) structure the film so that comedy, rather than suspense, is at the forefront. Much of the acting is way over-the-top, superfluous characters are dispatched in brutal but funny ways, and the plot in general is treated in a light manner.

That approach works for a while, but the lack of intrigue starts to hinder the film’s effectiveness. Grace is plucky, but the number of times she escapes and manners in which she does so get increasingly suspect. There are only so many clever gags the filmmakers can include before it becomes obvious they’re trying to cover up holes of their own making.

The actors were apparently given free rein to indulge in theatricality, a method that works better for some than others. Weaving and Brody come off the best, with Weaving’s maniacal screams and Brody’s understated delivery both being appropriate for what their respective characters are enduring. MacDowell is good, but could have used a bit more menace, while Czerny needed to dial down the hamminess about 10 notches.

For late-summer entertainment, Ready or Not is not a horrible option, but it’s unlikely many people will go seeking for it again in the future.

Samara Weaving in Ready or Not
Samara Weaving in Ready or Not. Photo by Eric Zachanowich