Setting “The Most Dangerous Game” in a haunted house, Ready or Not has fun playing with a premise and a setting familiar yet always enticing for another round. If you’re going to have a old-money mansion, you’d better have a billiards room and dumbwaiters and other locations that appropriately look like they were lifted from a boardgame illustration.
To add some vulnerable flesh to these bones, the movie shuffles in some class warfare. “Rich people really are different,” one character observes, tossing a bone to the thematically deaf, and later “You’ll do pretty much anything if your family says it’s okay.” This is about as deep as the movie will go, though there’s some interesting doodles in the periphery about the culpability of the new generations in their family’s sins. A couple scenes briefly recall a much stronger thriller (and allegory) involving killer in-laws, Get Out. But Ready or Not is much lighter on the commentary and heavier on the games.
You see, the Le Domas family has a tradition based on a secret based on a pact. The result: Grace (Samara Weaving), newly married into the family, must survive a deadly game of hide-and-seek with the rest of the members who believe they will all be destroyed at sunrise if she survives. The family is an assembly of wealthy jerks including oafs, schemers, and a coke addict with various degrees of certainty about this tradition. The movie doesn’t squeeze the full potential out of these characters but does have the good sense to stand back when they assemble and lets their deadly plans play out in familial squabbles in the movie’s funniest scenes.
Ready or Not is a bloody, comic movie that’s not above a few orchestra assisted jump scares. As the bloodiest bride since The Bride, Weaving earns her way bit by ripping bit. Wounds and damage are dealt liberally and by the time the climax arrives, we’re ready for about anything… or maybe not.