The rich sure do love their rituals, huh? That’s something that Ready or Not heroine Grace (Samara Weaving) finds out incredibly early on in her marriage to gaming heir Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien) in Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s intricately crafted, gory-as-all-get-out haunted hunted house thriller. It’s all fun and, uh, games until someone gets hurt.
Grace thinks the idea of hosting a midnight family game night right after tying the knot sounds a bit weird, but what does she know? She’s not from their decidedly blue-blooded world, having grown up in foster homes. Thus, while her new husband seems wary of spending time with his long-estranged parents and siblings, she’s enchanted by the idea of being part of a real family for once. She doesn’t mind that his mother (Andie MacDowell), older brother (Adam Brody), and father (Henry Czerny) seem a bit, well… creepy. Not to mention that some of them think she’s in it for the money.
As it turns out, the Le Domas family fortune came with a tiny little curse, and in order to satiate the devilish spirit of the man who gave their great-great-grandfather his big break, they’ve got to initiate each new Le Domas into the family by making them play a little game. Most of the games on offer are of the innocent variety (or so the characters say): standards like Old Maid and Go Fish. Alex knows firsthand, however, that the evening could go terribly awry, should Grace be unlucky enough to pluck hide-and-seek — their own version of “most dangerous game” — from the deck of options.
Once Grace draws the dreaded card scurries out of the room to hide, the clan begins to assemble their weaponry, as they believe that if they don’t hunt her down before the sun comes up and perform a ritual sacrifice, they’ll die (or worse, lose their riches). Alex escapes the room he’s been guarded in and attempts to clue Grace in on what she’s up against, advising her on the best way to leave the mansion post haste, but it’s obviously not going to be smooth sailing.
The character beats that screenwriters Guy Busick and R. Christopher Murphy roll out often feel a bit too expected — at least where Alex is concerned — but they’ve got a little something up their sleeve, and that something is a real wild card. Enter Adam Brody, who post-O.C. stardom has made a weird little career for himself playing weird little characters in projects like TV’s The League and movies like Scream 4. Bringing the same offbeat energy and sardonic sense of humor he brought to his role as the villainous emo singer in Karyn Kusama’s underrated horror comedy Jennifer’s Body way back when, he nearly steals the spotlight (and second billing) here.
But it’s Weaving who turns in a career-making performance here, rattling off one-liners that would make good old Seth Cohen smile. The Australian actress delivers a spirited performance as she tears through the family’s maze of a mansion in her tattered wedding dress (the film definitely relishes this imagery), dodging spears, bullets, and rotting corpses, attempting to flee the bourgeois dream she thought was her happily-ever-after. As it turns out, the film is as cynical about marriage as it is about the 1% and their relentless pageantry, and rightfully so: With in-laws like these, who needs enemies?