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August 25, 2019

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Weaving is game for challenge as bride

WEDDINGS usually lead to some fun and games in the bedroom for the happy and exhausted couple. In new horror-thriller “Ready or Not,” that’s definitely true — but the games aren’t always fun.

Samara Weaving has a breakout performance as a new bride who tries to stay alive until dawn after her wedding day as her in-laws hunt her down and try to kill her.

It’s a well-plotted film that excellently mixes gore and humor while also offering some social commentary by torching the clueless rich.

Weaving plays Grace, a foster kid who yearns for family, who marries Alex Le Domas, the scion of a wealthy family that built its fortune on games.

Whenever a new member tries to join the clan, they have a “weird family ritual” — they play a game. Sometimes it’s checkers or Old Maid. Sometimes its hunt-down-the-newcomer.

This last possibility is not exactly well communicated by her betrothed, surely a candidate for Worst Groom Ever, played by Mark O’Brien.

“It’s not too late to flee, you know,” he tells her. She replies, but without knowing the full consequences: “No, thank you. I’m all the way in.”

Grace then picks the most dangerous game.

But this time, the Le Domas family has found a worthy challenger. Grace will not go quietly, ripping her wedding dress so she can be more mobile, ditching her heels for a pair of Converse high tops and fighting back. “This doesn’t end well for you,” she is warned.

“Ready or Not” has a script by Guy Busick and R. Christopher Murphy, who seem to have played many games of Clue, and is directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, as well as executive produced by Chad Villella.

The filmmakers have a fun time chasing the bride and an ever-exasperated family — which includes a deliciously nasty Andie MacDowell as well as Kristian Bruun, Melanie Scrofano, Henry Czerny, Nicky Guadagni, Adam Brody and Elyse Levesque — but they also have time for some digs at the hypocritical ultra-wealthy.

The poor Le Domas servants are the first to meet their demise, mowed down by accident by the drug or drink-addled aristocrats.

“Why does this always happen to me?” one rich in-law wails after her crossbow shoots an arrow into a maid’s skull.

A portrait emerges of a family desperate to hold onto its exclusivity and privilege, even to the point of murder. Why is this family named Le Domas? Is it a subtle dig at The Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA? Is it perhaps an anagram for “Lame Dos?” Maybe it’s a knock on European-loving Yanks? Could it be a crude schoolyard taunt? Who knows? We’re never told. It remains an insider joke.

What gets wonderfully communicated is Grace’s will and power. She’s vulnerable, deadpan funny, scared and resolute, turning a role that could have been one-dimensional into something vibrant.

If this actress often gets confused with Margot Robbie, a few more roles like this and that may end.

She’s murderously good.


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