Ready Or Not (18)****

Directors: Tyler Gillett, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin

With: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien

Runtime: 95 mins

Part horror, part comedy, and with a sprinkling of satire targeting the rich and powerful, Ready Or Not is a twisted, devilishly entertaining affair with the most single-minded of plots. On her wedding night to Alex (O’Brien), Grace (Weaving) discovers that her new husband’s wealthy family, who made their fortune from games, likes to play a deadly one - if she can remain hidden in their beautifully appointed mansion until dawn, they won’t kill her.

From this simple seed, a rattling thriller emerges, packed with shocks and dark humour, though a slight midsection lull sees a rinse and repeat structure kick in, as Grace hides a bit, gets found by someone, overpowers them, then goes into hiding again. None of this is poorly done, but it just occasionally comes off a little drab given the strength of the setup.

So with repetition proving a bit of an issue, what’s required is a crackerjack third act to get the movie back on track. It almost gets there as well, hitting some fun notes but landing just short thanks to the absence of that prime idea or killer twist. Blame an uneven script that does well to not spell things out for us in the early stages, but which isn’t quite able to follow through when it really matters.

Working in its favour is the range of characters and their different behaviours. Not everyone is pure evil, no-one is wholly good and what someone might do in a given moment is the root of many of the biggest surprises and indeed laughs, while the question marks hanging over Alex and his brother Daniel (Brody) are sure to keep audiences on their toes.

The lack of a prestige cast isn’t a major problem, so while it may have been nice to see a couple of starrier faces, everyone here is more than up to it. Henry Czerny and Andie MacDowell as Alex’s parents notch up decent chuckles, as do many of the minor players but, as is often the case with horror hits, it’s the breakout performance of the female lead that shines brightest, and the terrific Weaving carries the film with ease.