Those looking for a little late summer cinematic bloodletting with a dash of politics who are disappointed that the controversial “The Hunt” – which features pissed off liberals hunting MAGAs for sport – was pulled from the release schedule will possibly consider Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s “Ready or Not” the second best thing.
In fact, it’s most likely better. Rather than targeting Trump supporters, the film involves a “most dangerous game” type of hunt in which a young woman from a modest background who marries the scion of a rich family, whose stock and trade is games of various sorts, finds herself to be the hunted by the insidious 1-percenter family into which she has married.
There’s a somewhat silly explanation for the scenario involving a past family’s members dalliance with the devil. A pact was made and success was had, but now the family is required to induct all new members through a game. The person must pick a card – and most of the time, they end up with chess, checkers or something along those lines.
In this film, the unlucky Grace (Samara Weaving, whose strong performance carries the picture) picks hide and seek. In this family, the game is played with sharp objects and those who are hiding are trying to survive until dawn. If the family fails to kill her, well, that’s apparently not an option.
Each of the family members have their own distinct traits – beau Daniel (Adam Brody) is the good son, while his brother, Alex (Mark O’Brien), is the more troublesome one, although those roles occasionally switch. There’s also a sinister looking aunt with a constant scowl on her face, a man who married one of the sisters who spends much of his time googling Satanic pacts and other things, and Andie MacDowell as the family’s matriarch.
The picture is, to quote Thomas Hobbes, nasty, brutish and short. That’s not to say it’s not fairly entertaining – it is. Not quite scary, mostly due to the nonstop quips by characters, “Ready or Not” is mostly a showcase for Weaving, who is funny when she needs to be, vulnerable at other times and a great horror movie heroine.
“Ready or Not” explores class differences, but it’s mostly concerned with its genre trappings. I obviously haven’t seen “The Hunt,” but based on the previous works of that film’s director, I have my doubts that the film won’t be anything other than being hit over the head with a mallet in terms of its social commentary. “Ready or Not” isn’t overbearing about such things. It’s a mostly fun movie with a strong lead performance and enough laughs to soften its often gory goings-on.