Truth be told, I have been thinking about Ready or Not since it’s August release. Truthfully, I’ve been mentally writing this review since then. Truthfully, this might just be my favorite movie of the year.
But Allison, you say (hi): isn’t it just a horror movie?
Yes. But also no.
Ready or Not is, on the surface, a very simple movie. Girl marries into family, family hunts down girl in order to sacrifice her to Satan before dawn in order to maintain their wealth and status. It is gory and gross and fun. It’s by far the most fun I’ve had at the movies this year. Tightly paced, the movie speeds along to a tidy 95 minutes and never wastes a minute of screen time. While the lore can be a little heavy handed at times, once the games begin and the script splits Grace from the Le Domas family, it’s darkly funny and there’s never too much at once. Gags and gore coexist perfectly and not a drop of red dyed corn syrup goes to waste.
The reason I love Ready or Not so much is the outstanding performance by Samara Weaving as Grace. We never stop rooting for Grace as she transforms from blushing bride to action girl to survivor. You want her to survive in spite of – or because in my case – the fact that she’s not a typical action heroine. She’s a normal person in a horror movie situation. Her reactions are natural and realistic and instinctual. She swears like a sailor and punches first. She gets hysterical and emotional and by the time Grace sits down in her blood-spattered wedding dress to have a well-earned cigarette at the close of the movie, you’re mentally telling her that she’s earned it and then some. I hope Samara Weaving has a long career as a scream queen because she is what we truly deserve.
The Le Domas family is batshit and dysfunctional, as you can only imagine for a wealthy family that hunts new family members for sport. Andie MacDowell is perfectly cast as the warm, blood thirsty matriarch from hell and every supporting actor has a moment in the sun. The less I say about Mark O’Brien as Alex Le Domas, Grace’s groom, the better. Not because it’s a bad performance but because Alex Le Domas makes my blood pressure skyrocket.
The target of my Teen People fueled yearning circa 2004, Adam Brody, is the emotional center of Ready or Not. Introduced to us by Grace as “your alcoholic brother who won’t stop hitting on me”, Daniel Le Domas goes from drunken comedic relief to the one member of the family that seems to actually care about Grace. While the other family members are eager to state how much they don’t want to kill her, only Daniel really puts these words into action. He helps her several times throughout the movie, giving her a head start and showing genuine reluctance to serve her up to the others. While we’re never sure who’s side he’s on until the very end, I feel that Brody’s performance gives the movie needed weight.
Upon my first viewing of the trailer, I had concerns about how violent Ready or Not would be (a rich statement considering how many true crime podcasts I listen to). In an era where gun violence is up front and center in the national conversation, how would a movie where a woman is literally hunted work around the subject? Easy. Just add crossbows. The Le Domas’ family hunts Grace with a series of over the top weapons – there are guns but more notable are crossbows and battleaxes. Gun violence is never really an issue in Ready or Not because they simply aren’t the prominent weapons.
Don’t think about Ready or Not too much. Not because there aren’t things to think about – there are. Underneath the gore and comedy is a biting commentary on how the rich really are different from you and me. While I’m sure Jeff Bezos didn’t make a pact with the devil and now has to sacrifice new members of the family after a game of hide and seek, I’m sure he’s thought about it a time or two. Ready or Not portrays the arrogance and privilege of the wealthy perfectly. You never for a moment see the Le Domas’ consider consequences and their only concerns are their own survival. The climax of the movie features a beat where you can see them collectively wonder if the authorities can take an entire family in for attempted murder before the problem is quickly solved in a shower of blood.
So don’t think about Ready or Not too much – unless you want to. Heaven knows I have.