‘Ready or Not’ proves itself to be the perfect summer thriller

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‘Ready or Not’ proves itself to be the perfect summer thriller

Grace Le Domas (Samara Weaving)’s wedding night takes a sinister turn when her new in-laws force her to take part in a sacred family tradition of hide and seek.

Grace Le Domas (Samara Weaving)’s wedding night takes a sinister turn when her new in-laws force her to take part in a sacred family tradition of hide and seek.

Courtesy of IMDB

Grace Le Domas (Samara Weaving)’s wedding night takes a sinister turn when her new in-laws force her to take part in a sacred family tradition of hide and seek.

Courtesy of IMDB

Courtesy of IMDB

Grace Le Domas (Samara Weaving)’s wedding night takes a sinister turn when her new in-laws force her to take part in a sacred family tradition of hide and seek.

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The summer box office season often seems to entail finding something that’ll distract me from the wet blanket of humidity outside and kill a couple hours that I’d otherwise spend napping on my back porch. “Ready or Not,” a thriller-comedy that hit theaters late last month, more than delivered on these criteria and has shaped up to be one of my favorite films of the summer.

Samara Weaving stars as Grace Le Domas, a young bride whose wedding night takes a sinister turn when her new in-laws force her to take part in a sacred family tradition of hide and seek. The catch? She’s the only one hiding, and being found by the family will cost her her life.   

With a 90-minute runtime, the film is an easy, breezy watch, and what it lacks in technical perfection, it makes up for with sharp satire of the thriller genre and deliciously overblown performances from an all-star cast. The Le Domas family exists in a campy sphere of sadism that somehow straddles the line between Salem witch prosecutors and the Addams Family, and with a hefty dose of melodrama, the film’s humor really finds its nuances.

From the sociopathic Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni) shooting Grace a death stare as she takes wedding photos, to Emilie Le Domas (Melanie Scrofano) proving woefully inadequate at handling 18th century weapons, directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett skillfully balance the absurd humor of this hopped-up heathen family with the film’s genuinely frightening premise of a literal manhunt.

If anything, “Ready or Not” could have benefited from full-on embracing its comedy instead of targeting a mix of laughs and gasps. When the film does transition into genuine dramatic territory, it feels dry and derivative compared to the ingenuity of its humor. In fact, watching our protagonist hijack a family car in a desperate attempt at escape is almost boring compared to earlier scenes showcasing the family’s exceeding incompetence at the very game they’ve invented. I could have easily watched another half hour of family patriarch Tony Le Domas (played with godly gusto by Henry Czerny) yelling at his adult children for accidentally killing the house staff, but more scenes of Grace harnessing her adrenaline and ingenuity to escape an inescapable situation? Probably not.

In a delightfully twisted ending, “Ready or Not” also offers some valuable (albeit demented) themes about the endurance of family ties and familial loyalty. I guess sometimes all it takes is a few psychopathic rich people to remind you how much you miss your mom. Whether you like them or not (and let’s hope you don’t), the Le Domases have a cult-level dedication to their ancestors, their traditions and each other, which, aside from the decapitating, stabbing, etc., is really quite admirable. More than just grossing me out with a few bullets to the face, the movie reminded me how inextricably linked we are to our loved ones, for better or for worse. I hesitate to call this the feel-good family film of the year, but hey, it’s not the worst film to see with relatives in town.

For all the hardcore thriller fans out there, begrudgingly waiting for the next fast-paced adrenaline ride that’ll throw Tom Cruise off his saddle, this might not be your movie. But nevertheless, it’s hard to not enjoy the tonal amalgam “Ready or Not” masters on a minute-by-minute basis. Come for the premise and stay for the laughs, gore that gives Tarantino a run for his money and cheery reminders of why late summer is the perfect time for a wedding.