Here it comes, “Ready or Not,” a horror film with some of the darkest humor you’ll ever see.

All "Twilight Zone" fans, heed my call: This is a movie you don’t want to miss. (Fans of all ages embrace the classic television series, still a favorite today because of its smart screenplays, memorable characters and chilling scenarios.)

Think of this as an “R”-rated “Zone” episode, and you’ll have the right idea.

The setting is contemporary, and the environment is the lawn and the mysterious interiors of the Le Domas family estate.

We first see bride-to-be Grace (Samara Weaving, “Monster Trucks”) having a cigarette just before she marries Alex (Mark O’Brien, “Arrival”) at his childhood home. Several relatives remark that he finally has returned after many years.

His parents (Henry Czerny and Andie MacDowell) are extremely wealthy because they are part of a company that manufactures popular games.

Grace grew up in foster care, and doesn’t measure up to family expectations – maybe she’s just a gold-digger, they whisper.

The ceremony takes place, and now the couple is about to begin their wedded bliss … except for one thing. It’s a tradition that whenever a new person joins the family, that person must draw a card that determines what game the family will play. Once the game ends, that person officially has been accepted as one of the family.

That is, unless the newcomer draws a game indicating the group will play Hide & Seek, and that’s exactly what Grace does. The atmosphere changes instantly, and the bride, who thinks this all must be a joke, is told she must stay hidden – possibly until dawn.

As soon as Grace takes off on foot, the family members begin to select weapons, including a crossbow and an ax. This game is played to the death. It’s tradition.

The reason the players are so bloodthirsty soon is revealed. In the meantime, an older vinyl record plays a Hide & Seek song while family members argue about whether they should use the security system to track the hapless Grace.

Some of the players are terrible at hunting, while others, including Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni, “Lars and the Real Girl”) are out for blood the moment the game begins.

Although she’s outnumbered, Grace is tough. She’s smart, too, and takes note of her resources at every step.

This is clever, gruesome – I believe this is the only movie in which I have heard the phrase “goat pit” uttered -- and witty. I love the characters, from the party girl to the coward. The environments, mostly within the mansion where the game begins, are creepy and unsettling.

Plus the one-word finale is a hoot.


Film critic/reporter since 1985 at Quad-City Times. Society of Professional Journalists, Broadcast Film Critics Association and Alliance of Women Film Journalists member. Member of St. Mark Lutheran Church.