“Ready or Not” - a Gothic bouquet of blood, gore, and laughs
Updated: Jun 8, 2022
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
(1) Before the wedding, Alex Le Domas (Mark O'Brien) has a quiet moment with his bride Grace (Samara Weaving) in his old bedroom at the Le Domas family mansion. (2) Before the night's over Grace will be running for her life in a deadly game of "Hide-and-Seek."
“READY OR NOT”
4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, Digital copy; 2019; R for violence, bloody images, language throughout and some drug use; Streaming via Amazon Prime Video, Apple (4K), FanadangoNOW (4K), Google Play (4K), Vudu (4K), YouTube (4K)
Best extra: “Let the Games Begin” making-of documentary
READY OR NOT, here comes the Le Domas family. For generations, dating back to the 19th century, the Le Domases have been amassing a fortune from games: Card games, board games, and now even the ownership of four professional sports franchises. But the source of the family’s success, or at least so they believe, dates back to a Faustian bargain on the part of an early Le Domas patriarch. And it’s the grisly price of that bargain that features in “Ready or Not,” a gorgeous Gothic bouquet of blood, gore, profanity — and lots and lots of laughs.
Samara Weaving stars as Grace who, resplendent in her wedding gown, we meet as she prepares to take her vows and marry Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien) in a ceremony at his family’s mansion. Grace was raised in foster homes and yearns for a real family. And although Alex warns her about the, shall we say, eccentricity of the Le Domases from whom he’s been estranged for years, Grace is thrilled to join them. Little does she know, but she’ll soon be forced to take part in a deadly game of "Hide and Seek." She must hide while the rest of the family, armed with a variety of weapons, from a hunting rifle to a crossbow, to a battle-ax that’s aptly paired with spiky white-haired Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni), seek Grace. When they find her, she must be sacrificed as part of the periodic satanic ritual that keeps the Le Domases rich — and alive.
(1) The Le Domas family waits as the photographer makes a series of portraits of Grace and other family members just before the ceremony. (2-4) During the opening credits, key family members are introduced including Alex's father Tony (Henry Czerny), his mother Becky (Andie MacDowell) and scary Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni). (5) Alex and Grace get a standing ovation.
Written by Gary Busick and Ryan Murphy, and brought to the screen by the 3-man collective known as Radio Silence (producer Chad Villella; directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett), “Ready or Not” carries little hints of such films as “Get Out,” “Rosemary’s Baby” and even “Wicker Man” — except it’s very, very funny. With terrific production values, a perfect setting — a Toronto landmark Gothic revival mansion called Casa Loma — a sharp screenplay, and an ensemble of fully-invested actors playing it totally straight, the film is sure to become a classic of the horror/comedy genre, much like “An American Werewolf in London.” The Australian model/actress Weaving, who bears a notable resemblance to her uncle Hugo (the elven ruler from “Lord of the Rings”), is the unequivocal star of “Ready or Not,” and she is, pardon the pun, completely game for the part. Her supporting actors also do a bang-up job as the wacky, bumbling, murderous in-laws. Included in that group is Andie MacDowell, as Alex’s mother, playing against type and clearly having a blast as she channels a more stylish Morticia Addams; Henry Czerny as Alex’s dad; and Adam Brody as Alex’s brother.
20th Century Fox Home continues the trend of releasing smaller budgeted films exclusively with 4K/HDR content onto digital platforms. “Ready or Not” was made for $6 million and made just shy of $60 million globally. Captured on 3.4K digital cameras (2.39:1 aspect ratio) and mastered in 2K, the expansive HDR10 toning was ideal for the slasher/horror genre — lots of creepy, shadowy interiors and nighttime exteriors with striking black levels and warm tones from candlelights. The overall sharpness was quite good on the 4K and Blu-ray with plenty of detail in close-ups and practical effects. Skin tones are realistic, as are the many instances of blood and guts.
The uncompressed DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack on the Blu-ray is excellent; with ambient sounds and effects well-balanced, and dialogue always clear, while the digital platforms get the compressed Dolby Digital Plus
(1&2) At night wide-eyed Grace is called to the Le Domas Room - only reserved for family members - full of candles, stuffed animal heads, and dated weapons. Tony Le Domas goes over the rules of the special card game. (3-5) Grace pulls the game of "Hide-and-Seek," and goes off hiding wearing her long wedding dress not knowing each family member is given a weapon to kill her before dawn. Alex's sister Emilie (Melanie Scrofano) is given an old pistol.
The commentary by Weaving and the Radio Silence guys, a brief gag reel and a couple of photo galleries. The making-of, multi-part documentary is especially entertaining and informative. Writers Busick and Murphy wrote the screenplay for “Ready or Not” on spec, and note they’d “always been interested in stories that involved a Faustian bargain.” Once the script was optioned, an “open directing call” ended with Radio Silence, known for having “a pedigree in the genre.”
An assistant art director, Laura Hokstad, talks about designing the series of games shown in the beginning of the film. She put a “sinister twist” on traditional games, and included “devilish characters” in the designs. Weaving discusses her role as Grace, saying she didn’t want to play her as a victim, insisting on making her a “badass” who evolves into a “fierce warrior.” Avery Plewes, the costume designer, describes the 17 versions of Grace’s wedding dress, as the film progresses and the beautiful gown “degrades, degrades, degrades.” MacDowell notes she’d never been in a horror movie before but decided to “play it straight… and had a lot of fun,” recalling “a lot of laughter on the set.” Radio Silence talks about their preference for practical effects, rather than digital, and their use of real explosive charges and “meat cannons” in the film’s hilarious climax. Weaving happily notes that the fake blood, with which she’s covered for much of the film, tasted a lot like caramel.
— Peggy Earle
(1&2) Alex tries to help Grace with an escape, but she witnesses the accidental killing of one of the maids, from trigger happy Emilie. (3) Grace finds a way outside of the mansion. (4&5) Grace is rounded up and the satanic ritual begins.