Ready or Not (aka Family Ritual) review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
There’s no dancing around Ready or Not’s message about eating the rich. This is a savagely blunt and brutal film that doesn’t just want to eat the elites but roast them to a crisp, devour their meat, pick your teeth with the bones, and do so with a bloody smile. And it’s one hell of a gory ride with a knowing wink and brilliant bitterness.
The Le Domas is hosting a wedding at their lavish and aged estate, where the handsome Alex Le Domas (Mark O'Brien) is due to wed the lovely and honest Grace (Samara Weaving). Alex’s family is a collective of rich snobs. Some are friendly as with the charming Becky (Andie MacDowell). Some are bitter as with Alex’s father Tony (Henry Czerny). And some just shoot Grace death-glares for the entire ceremony, as with the white-haired witch of Helene (Nicky Guadagni). All of them are not 100% on board with Grace being welcomed into the family.
There is one thing Grace can do to prove her worth. As part of the family’s superstitious legacy, all newly-wed members welcomed into the Le Domas must play a game decided from an ancient random card generator. Whichever game is drawn at midnight, the new bride or groom must play it in order to avoid a Satanic curse. Failing to play will result in murder. Grace doesn’t know this when she picks a card. She also doesn’t know that drawing the Hide & Seek card essentially means she’ll be literally hunted throughout the mansion.
If this all seems absurd, don’t worry; the film is well aware of how ludicrous this plot seems to essentially stage a slasher picture around the old game of Hide & Seek. In fact, the film plays off this absurdity for more than just a goofy gore parade, which is still a fun aspect in its own right. Throughout the film is a constant bickering of how faulty and foolish traditions can be when placed in modern setting. Tony, aiming to keep his family safe from a curse, tries to ensure that things are done the old-fashioned way, where guests being hunted must be pursued with crossbows and axes. He even turns off the security cameras to make the game fair although he later decides it might be a good idea to turn them on. “Pick and choose,” Helene bitterly gripes.
There’s a lot that can be divulged from the family’s dark nature of killing off others for the sake of their own. The motive of self-preservation is present throughout, with a rationalization that the odds of ever drawing the game of being hunted is rare but that if it comes to that than it must be done. After all, the Le Domas are very wealthy and comfy. They’re not willing to part with their ancestors’ pact with Satan at the risk of saving one life. But the film offers them no comfort or empathy; what they’re doing is evil and they more or less don’t care enough that they deserve every gory death headed their way. There’s a very bold moment when one of the Le Domas family mentions that she has kids and that they don’t deserve to suffer. After making this statement, however, she discovers her child who recently tried to shoot grace and congradulates her boy on doing what she feels is right. If evil is perputated, than perhaps the children must go when the legacy burns down.
And, wow, does it burn down beautifully in a vulgar and crass manner where Grace transforms from a glowing bride into a bloody warrior. This is a film that literally screams its message with violent vigor to let its allegory be known far and wide. If Jordan Peele’s Us was a piercing whistle at the broken system, Ready or Not is a bullhorn that literally shouts “f**k this rich” just in case it wasn’t clear. And it looks damn good doing so as well.