'Ready or not' solid cat and mouse movie

Fox Searchlight Pictures Samara Weaving stars in the dark comedy “Ready or Not,” which is in theaters now.

There’s just something about in-laws.

Most people you see don’t get along with their better halves family, but that’s life. At least they don’t try to hunt you down and kill you on your wedding night. If they do, that’s not normal.

But it is for the Le Domas Gaming Dominion in the new dark comedy “Ready or Not.”

A family tradition for the Le Domases is to have the new bride or groom pick a card out of a mysterious box on the night of the wedding. The card could be something as simple as checkers, but if someone were to draw the card of hide and seek, well then it doesn’t turn out good for them.

Apparently, the family made some deal with the devil and should that card be drawn, they have to make a sacrifice or they will die. That’s the plot of the movie. It is pretty barebones, as are most horror films (The “Saw” franchise notwithstanding) but this movie is a good cat and mouse picture.

The unlucky bride is Grace (played by Hugo Weaving’s niece Samara) and she is in love with her fiancée Alex, as most happy couples are. She notices his rich family is odd, especially the creepy Aunt Helene, but she doesn’t think much of it.

Some of the remarks from the in-laws aren’t very nice, but she chalks it up to just being snooty members of the upper class. After all, her future mother-in-law Becky is extremely nice to her and happy she has brought Alex back into the fold.

Grace doesn’t wonder why Alex was estranged from his family, little does she know it’s because they worship the devil and are willing to kill her, but she gets back to that later.

Once Grace picks the card and the game begins, a lot of gory hijinks commence with Grace ultimately rethinking her wedding vows at the end. It is a great take on horror films, having some fun with the genre like “Cabin in the Woods” did in 2012.

There are some overtones toward the rich in the film, which I understand why they are there, but this movie isn’t smart enough to be a satire. It is just an enjoyable flick with a simple plot and a good lead actress in Weaving.

What I liked:

• I have yet to see Weaving in anything else, but she gave me some Margot Robbie vibes in terms of a lot of her acting expressions. It doesn’t hurt that she looks similar to her.

• I thought the father-in-law Tony (Henry Czerny) was really loving his role. The man chewed a lot of scenery in a film that kind of felt flat at times. Having an actor who loves their role so much brings one back into a movie if they are feeling iffy about it. Nicolas Cage has made a career out of that.

• I thought the backstory was interesting about the family’s pact with a mysterious benefactor who granted their wish of wealth in return for some unsavory things such as the game of hide and seek.

• Becky is played by Andie McDowell who I have always liked since “Groundhog Day,” and her trademark accent is a welcome addition in this film of mostly unknowns.

What I didn’t like:

• The movie did drag on at times and I could say most of it comes from my next comment, but some of the writing just seems like the directors are trying to fill a runtime instead of making it a suspense-filled film like it should be.

• The one thing I hate to associate with this film – because I did enjoy it – was the experience at the Stillwater AMC. Midway through the movie, when Grace is on the run, the screen started to fog up. At first, it was just a hue making it a bit hard to see, then it completely filled up and nothing could be seen. It took 10 minutes for the employees to clean off – OK I get it – but the movie had been playing throughout and they refused to rewind it. So, I just missed 10 minutes of a movie I paid for and it really grinded my gears. Please show that you care.

Rating: R for violence, bloody images, language throughout, and some drug use.

My score: 78/100

Jordan Bishop is the assistant news editor at the Stillwater News Press and can be reached at jbishop@stwnewspress.com.

Recommended for you