3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

What games do you play with your family? Not the psychological and manipulative methods that you play to get your way, but the actual games. Every family is different. Some are board games people and there are the memorable card games that the uncles played at every family gathering. While others break out the karaoke machine or try out their acting skills with their latest rendition of charades. Regardless of the game, the end result is meant to entertain and draw families together.

Ready or Not takes the family choice of games to a whole new level. Grace (Australia’s own – Samara Weaving) and Alex (Mark O’Brien) are celebrating their wedding with the groom’s eccentric family. The Le Domas family has built its wealth in the gaming world (card games, board games, etc) and their tradition is to play a unique game with newly married family members. The blushing bride must draw a random card to reveal the game that is to be played with the relatives. Grace pulls the ‘Hide & Seek’ card and she quickly discovers the horrific truth that she must hide for her life. As each member of the family starts to arm themselves with everything from rifles to crossbows, it becomes apparent that she must do all she can to survive through the night. 

As the story unfolds on-screen, Alex shares a flashback that reveals what happened to his uncle 30 years upon choosing the dubious card. Even though Alex was only five years old, he could not get the memories out of his mind. The only thing that can save Grace is her ability to survive until dawn. In the process of the hunt, the Le Domases realise that their own lives are at risk if they fail to catch Grace.

Determining the classification of this film might be as tricky as it is to win at this vicious game of ‘Hide and Seek.’ There is enough blood, gore and violence to gain the label of horror, but there are also comedic elements tied into the movie. This dark humour becomes evident during many of the death and in particular at the conclusion. It is due to these funnier moments that minis the scariness of the tenser moments in the film. By diffusing these elements causes the tension to subside and weaken the atmosphere, which usually occurs in scarier horror films. Despite the humorous aspects, the script does contain enough profanity and gore to earn it a mature rating.  

Samara Weaving puts in a fine and convincing performance as the innocent, but the strong bride. As a woman who is suddenly thrust into a fight for her life she discovers a resilience in herself as she tries to escape her situation. She is supported by exceptional acting talent. Each plays their part to show how far a family is willing to go to preserve their way of life, even if it means someone else must die. 

Ready or Not became an exercise in managing expectations with Grace’s story arch being different then what most audience members might expect. The ending will have people talking about this film for some time and speculating about what could have been. However, it is still entertaining to watch and the story will draw people into the world of The Le Domas family and seeing how things turn out in the morning. A film that is for the fans of horror films that do not hold back on the graphic nature of murder. A game that will make most people appreciate the simple game of Monopoly or Dutch Blitz at the next family gathering.

REEL DIALOGUE: What do I need to do to be accepted into the family?

Grace’s backstory reveals that she spent all her life growing up in foster homes, which made her long for a family. She has high hopes of acceptance and being part of a loving and loyal family unit. To have this acceptance tied to the ritual of playing a game, is initially disheartening and confusing for the young bride. Even though most families do not go to this extreme, being welcomed into the family can prove to be challenging for any new member. 

The Bible tells us that acceptance into God’s family of believers is not based on a condition or an act we must perform. People do not have to have an individual social status or special qualifications to be welcomed. The only criterion for being brought into the family is a belief in salvation through Jesus’ sacrifice of dying on the cross on our behalf for our sins that makes it possible.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. Galatians 3:28-29