Something old, something new, something borrowed …
Lots of and lots of viscous, foul-smelling, vomit-inducing goo.
I don’t want to get into too many specifics about what happens to Samara Weaving’s bride on her wedding night in the cheerfully disgusting and darkly funny “Ready or Not” — but let’s just say when all is said and done, there’s not a dry cleaner in the world that could repair all the rips and erase all the stains marring her once-pristine gown.
Talk about a haunted honeymoon.
Directed with great style and sharp comedic/horror timing by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, featuring a bat-bleep crazy script by Guy Busick and R. Christopher Murphy, as well as terrific performances by a talented cast fully embracing the absurdist material, “Ready or Not” is a warped and audacious and absolutely ridiculous slapstick gorefest.
The gross-out visual punchlines might have you doubling over with laughter. Or gagging to the point where you’ll regret ordering those nachos.
The Australian actress Samara Weaving has an appealing, unvarnished, offbeat presence as the smart and resourceful Grace, who is about to be married to Alex (Mark O’Brien), her boyfriend of 18 months.
Grace was raised in foster homes and has no family — but she’s about to become the newest member of the obscenely wealthy, extremely close-knit, blueblood Le Domas clan, who are thrilled about prodigal son Alex returning home. The wedding will be held on the grounds of the family mansion, which has all the welcoming warmth of the Overlook Hotel from “The Shining.”
Seems as if Alex has told Grace very little about his family until very recently. Now that Grace is here, she is determined to win the approval of Alex’s mother (Andie MacDowell), among other family members, and prove she doesn’t care about Alex’s family pedigree or his money — she loves Alex for who he is.
So, it’s like “Crazy Rich Asians,” only much, much crazier.
As the wild-eyed, increasingly intense patriarch Tony Le Domas (Henry Czerny) explains to Grace, the family empire was built on games, starting with the printing and selling of playing cards in the 19th century, continuing through the sales of countless popular board games in the 20th century and expanding to the point where the family owns four professional sports teams in present day.
But it all began with a devil’s bargain that stipulates all family weddings must take place at castle Le Domas — and on the night of the nuptials, after all the other guests have departed, the extended family will gather to play a game determined by the draw of a card.
It might be something as innocuous as checkers or Old Maid. Or it might be something considerably more high-risk, involving Satanic rituals and hooded costumes and “Eyes Wide Shut”-lookin’ masks, and family members wielding shotguns and pistols and axes and crossbows and such.
As you might guess, Grace does NOT draw a card calling for a night of Scattergories.
The ensuing “game” of Hide and Seek has Grace on the run and doing battle with a host of family members and household staffers, most of whom believe if they don’t kill Grace by dawn, the entire Le Domas family will die.
“Ready or Not” includes a sprinkling of sly social commentary about wealth and privilege, but it’s primarily a 21st century version of a blood-soaked, drive-in movie — and on that level, it consistently delivers the goods.
Andie MacDowell is Alex’s mother, an outwardly calm and classy presence who was once an outsider like Grace and genuinely likes her — to a point. Adam Brody turns in solid work as Alex’s hard-drinking and deeply conflicted older brother Daniel. Melanie Scrofano scores some of the biggest laughs in the movie as Alex’s coke-snorting, pill-popping disaster of a sister. And Nicky Guadagni is a hoot as the very scary Aunt Helene, whose Facebook page probably lists “Rosemary’s Baby” as her favorite movie.
As the madness escalates and the body count increases, Grace becomes the horror movie heroine version of John McClane in “Die Hard” — plunged into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse when a celebratory event goes sideways; overcoming a footwear issue; dealing with an idiot who only makes things worse; taking on weapon-toting siblings; frustrated beyond belief when a call for help is met with obstinate incompetence. And yet still capable of providing some sharp commentary about the proceedings and somehow keeping at least the shred of a sense of humor every step of the way.
That’s Grace under fire.