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Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: Ready or Not

“The Goldfinch” is also new to Blu-Ray this week.

It’s true what they say: The rich don’t live like the rest of us. This is obvious when looking at the lifestyles of those who can afford the best and most premium of what is available in the world. Less obvious is what they do when in private, shuttered from the prying eyes of the masses. Gatherings of the ultra-wealthy have long been rumored to be events full of orgies, sacrifices, and devil worship. The fictional Le Domas family, which made its fortune on games, is one of these families. So it’s not too surprising in “Ready or Not” when a game of Hide and Seek gets bloody.

It does come as a shock to new Le Domas family member Grace (Samara Weaving) though. She marries youngest brother Alex (Mark O'Brien) in a beautiful outdoor ceremony on the family’s estate. Some of his family, like brother Daniel (Adam Brody) and mother Becky (Andie MacDowell) are happy to welcome her into the fold. Others, like father Tony (Henry Czerny) and the scowling Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni), either think he could do better or regard her as a gold digger. Still others, like sister Emilie (Melanie Scrofano), her husband Fitch (Kristian Bruun), and Daniel’s wife Charity (Elyse Levesque) are fairly indifferent toward her and are just there because it’s a family gathering.

But since this is no ordinary family, this is no ordinary gathering, which means that Grace is having no ordinary wedding night. After a bit of family history that goes back to the Civil War era and a deal an ancestor of theirs made with a mysterious man named Le Bail, Grace is told to pick a card from a mysterious box. The card will have the name of a game on it that she has to play in order to be fully initiated as a member of the family. It could be anything, from Checkers to Old Maid, which are all safe. The only one she could get that would be deadly is Hide and Seek. Guess which one she gets.

The premise of “Ready or Not” is sinister and twisted, but under the guidance of directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, working from a script by Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy, the tone is eased back from full on terror and into the realm of black comedy—and brutal, bloody black comedy at that. There are moments that happen so quickly that after I got over being stunned and wondering, “Did that really just happen?” I found myself chuckling at the characters’ reaction to the situation. This is appropriate since the moments are played for laughs. I also got a roar out of Fitch’s very modern solution to figuring out how to work his crossbow.

A movie like this needs a likeable and relatable protagonist to carry it, and Samara Weaving is great in the role. She is a very appealing actress—not only is she thin and pretty, she also comes across as down to Earth and fun. We root for her as she goes through this crazy evening. There’s a moment mid-way through the movie in which she catches a glimpse of herself in a mirror wearing a bandolier and brandishing a shotgun. She pauses for a second in wonder at how things got to that point. It’s a very rational, sympathetic moment, and I’m glad the movie took the time to include it since it’s a reminder that she’s a regular woman put into a harrowing situation. All she wanted was to spend her wedding night with just her husband. Was that too much to ask?

Without giving away the spectacular climax of this energetic and well-paced movie, “Ready or Not” has one of the coolest and cleverest endings I’ve ever seen. I have a special appreciation for a movie that goes out on a memorable shot or a great line, which leaves the audience with something to hook onto as they leave the theatre and remember the movie. The last shot and last line of the movie is a terrific closing note, especially if you’re married—and I’ll leave it at that. Buy it.  

Fun Double Feature Idea: Pair “Ready or Not” with “Would You Rather,” a gem of a horror movie from 2012 starring Jeffrey Combs that is also about rich people playing deadly games. The tone of “Would You Rather” is more straightforward and less comical than “Ready or Not” but it’s an equally entertaining movie with a gut punch of an ending.

Also New This Week

The Goldfinch

“The Goldfinch” is one of those drab and depressing movies that goes out of its way to be drab and depressing. Literally every character has something horribly tragic happen to them or to someone they love, which makes them despondent. There’s not one happy person in this movie as it lumbers from scene to scene for two and a half hours. That’s a long time to spend with mopey people who feel sorry for themselves, both in real life and in the movies. This is nothing but a sad slog that wallows in pain and despair, with no celebration of joy or life. Skip it.

More New Releases: “Semper Fi,” in which a police officer who serves in the Marine Corps Reserves is faced with an ethical dilemma when it comes to helping his brother in prison, starring Leighton Meester, Jai Courtney, and Finn Wittrock; and “The Parts You Lose,” in which a young boy in a small North Dakota town befriends a potentially dangerous fugitive, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Paul.

Andrew Hudak is a lifelong film lover. His column on Blu-Ray new releases appears every Tuesday. He lives in Connecticut.

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