The formulaic sequel “Angel has Fallen” ruled the weekend box office in the U.S., but a better choice for moviegoers would be the surprisingly edgy black comedy, “Ready or Not.”
A step above the usual horror flick, “Ready or Not” is campy and absurd, matching some inventive violence with slapstick humor.
Samara Weaving stars as Grace, a former foster child excited to inherit a family of her own when she marries her true love, Alex (Mark O’Brien) Le Domas.
Alex’s kin, however, aren’t your average, everyday family. They’re the filthy rich owners of a board game empire and to call them eccentric would be kind.
Grace is beautiful, wide-eyed, fun-loving and devoted — and too excited on her wedding day to pay much attention to the wary stares aimed at her, or to the worried looks creasing Alex’s face.
After the wedding, Grace discovers a quirky Le Domas tradition: each new spouse has to play one randomly selected game with the rest of the family on their wedding night. It could be checkers or old maid — or it could be hide and seek.
Hide and seek turns out to be the one bad option. While Grace, still in her gown, playfully skips off to hide, the members of the family snag a collection of aging weapons off the mansion walls and prepare to go on the hunt. Tradition demands that they catch Grace and kill her before sunrise.
Can the bride survive the wedding night? If she does, can the marriage survive the fact that Alex was not quite transparent about his family’s fatal flaw?
Weaving gives a star-making turn as Grace, breathing life into a part that could be a caricature — plucky pretty girl fights back.
Fortunately for Grace, the squabbling Le Domas clan is not comprised of ruthlessly efficient killers. They haven’t participated in many hunts and aren’t even sure of the rules. At one point, a character has to turn to the Internet to figure out how to use a crossbow.
Some of the characters are bumbling, while Alex’s constantly sloshed older brother Daniel (Adam Brody) has moral issues and is reluctant to participate. Andie MacDowell’s matriarch Becky seems sympathetic toward Grace. Menacing Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni), however, is terrifying with a battle axe in hand, and just how involved in the madness are the children and the hired help?
“Ready or Not” has some good scares and clocks in at a tidy hour-and-a-half. It’s not perfect, but it has some original ideas and a satisfying conclusion.
Rental Recommendation: MacDowell has navigated wedding ceremonies before, notably in “Four Weddings and a Funeral.” Grade: B.
Email Steve Ouellette at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ready or Not
Starring: Samara Weaving, Mark O’Brien, Andie MacDowell
Rated: R (for violence, bloody images, language throughout, and some drug use)
Running time: 95 minutes