Film review: Comedy-horror Ready Or Not a rollercoaster ride of wicked delights
A WEDDING night ritual warps a childhood game of hide and seek into an exhilarating battle for survival in Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett's twisted horror comedy.
Shot with severed tongue wedged firmly in bullet-torn cheek, Ready Or Not is a gloriously gory and giddily entertaining bloodbath, anchored by a stand-out lead performance from Samara Weaving as the blushing bride, who unwittingly marries into a family of devil-worshipping lunatics.
Mischievous screenwriting duo Guy Busick and R Christopher Murphy have a foul-mouthed blast with their conventional premise of a damsel in distress being hunted for sport.
The marvellously macabre tone is set when one victim's final spluttering gasps for air repeatedly interrupt another character's battle cry and incite a hilariously over-the-top response.
Glamorous housemaids are dispatched in gruesome fashion to deadpan cries ("She was my favourite!") before the remaining cast face potentially grisly ends courtesy of splatter-heavy make-up and special effects.
Jump-out-of-seat scares are handcuffed tightly to bloodcurdling whoops of delight as Weaving's helpless heroine slowly turns the tables on her aggressors and resolves to thwart their Machiavellian master plan.
Grace (Weaving) believes her dreams have come true when she accepts a marriage proposal from Alex Le Domas (Mark O'Brien) after a whirlwind 18-month romance. He is the eldest son of a board game dynasty stretching back generations.
Curiously, Alex is estranged from his parents Tony (Henry Czerny) and Becky (Andie MacDowell), siblings Daniel (Adam Brody) and Emilie (Melanie Scrofano) and glowering aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni).
"It's not too late to flee," Daniel advises Grace a few minutes before the ceremony at the sprawling Le Domas estate.
"You don't belong in this family. I mean that as a compliment."
She ignores her brother-in-law's cryptic warning and at midnight, Grace joins the rest of the clan including Daniel's money-grabbing wife Charity (Elyse Levesque) and Emilie's hapless husband Fitch (Kristian Bruun) in a wood-panelled room to honour a longstanding tradition.
Every new member of the household must draw a card from an ornate wooden box and play the game indicated.
Grace reveals a Hide And Seek card and excitedly curls up in a dumb waiter while the rest of the family counts to 100.
She is blissfully unaware that her in-laws, except Alex, are grabbing rifles, a pistol, battle axe, crossbow and speargun to fulfil a murderous pact forged by Tony's great-grandfather.
Ready Or Not doesn't play hide and seek with giggles or gore, taking us on a rollercoaster ride of wicked delights that include a hysterical supporting performance from Guadagni.
The brisk running time sustains tension, building to a deeply satisfying and loopy crescendo.
READY OR NOT (18, 95 mins) Horror/Comedy/Thriller/Romance. Samara Weaving, Mark O'Brien, Adam Brody, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell, Nicky Guadagni. Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett