The Case for Ready or Not
If you wanted to sum up Ready or Not in one sentence you could do no better than the line Grace (Samara Weaving) spits out about two thirds of the way through the film: “Fucking rich people.” That’s it. That’s the whole review. Goodnight everybody!
Okay, we’re not done. Ready or Not tells the story of Grace, a blushing bride-to-be on her wedding day as she’s about to marry the love of her life and join the Le Domas family, who happen to be the proud owners of an absurd family fortune founded on a gaming empire. The celebration is interrupted when Grace is informed that to truly join their ranks she has to draw a card and play the game printed on it. It could be any game, they tell her, checkers, chess, old maid, etc., but Grace has the misfortune of drawing the one bad card, hide and seek. From there, we’re off to the races as the Le Domas family reveal themselves to be engaged in a pact with the devil and must hunt down and sacrifice Grace before dawn. And you thought your in-laws were bad.
The mayhem that follows is a true pleasure on every level. The scenes of horror and suspense are well crafted and tightly wound to the point that you’re never quite sure which way this whole thing is going to go. The gore is brutal and used to great effect but never risks becoming gratuitous. There are even some genuine belly-laughs interspersed throughout the film that ensure the plot is kept moving and fun while never taking itself overly seriously. All of this together would make for a fine, fun, late summer trip to the theater, but Ready or Not has far more on its mind. On top of being an excellent horror/thriller it’s also a witty and scathing takedown of the 1% and toxic family dogma.
As Grace catches on to the true nature of the game she quickly learns that she needs to fight tooth and nail to survive this. The rich aren’t going to give her any breaks so she can’t afford to give them any either. Of course, when the bullets (and arrows, and bolts, and battleaxes) start flying, the pampered elite aren’t the ones to take the hits and are more than happy to let someone else solve their problems for them while Grace showcases grit, ingenuity, and empathy in spades. The system is broken, the film argues, and it’s going to take good common people fighting like hell to fix anything.
While this allegory plays out, to both horrific and comedic effect, Grace’s new husband (Mark O’Brien) and his apathetic and self-loathing brother (a scene stealing Adam Brody) wrestle with what it means to be overwhelmed by the toxicity of their family. Breaking away from them is difficult, maybe even impossible, and is not without consequences (the Le Domas family believe that if they fail to complete the ritual they’ll all die come sunrise). Can they ever push out the evil their family has ingrained in them? Who else will pay the price if they can’t? There are the kind of questions on the minds of writers Guy Busick and (the other) Ryan Murphy and directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett and they help keep the insanity of the story grounded and impactful for the film’s 95-minute run time.
Ready or Not is a thriller with brains, wit, and charm and it’s one of the best movies of the year thanks in no small part to its stellar cast, especially Samara Weaving who should be on a fast track to the A-List after this breakout. Don’t miss this one.
Eat the rich