The current vogue in many films, and not just horror, is how evil the super rich are. Despite the numbers these movies do, the super rich still haven’t got the memo. Ready or Not is your classic girl falls in love with a rich boy, rich boy’s family attempts to murder girl story. Timeless. Ready or Not is well executed, tense but with a sense of humour, and blood. Gallons of blood. All over the camera lens.
Grace (Samara Weaving, TV’s SMILF) marries into the Le Domas Gaming Dominion, but she does not know that before she can be accepted into the fold she must play a game. Unfortunately Grace draws the “Hide and Seek” card from the deck, which means that the entire Le Domas family are duty bound to kill her before dawn breaks.
While the script, written by Guy Busick (TV’s Stan Against Evil) and Ryan Murphy (Minutes Past Midnight) boasts some exposition, it never flashes back to the history of the Le Domas games; Ready or Not gives us accepted truths without asking us to take them as gospel. The ambiguity about the supernatural or merely unhinged nature of the family keeps the audience guessing, but Grace couldn’t care less: these people have historical weapons and they don’t care how many maids they kill on their way to the blood sacrifice.
The collateral damage is the point: this is a movie where only the people with deep pockets matter. There are literal cheap deaths in Ready or Not, played for laughs. They provide levity but beyond the laughter, there’s a provocation: the help theoretically deserve violence against them no more than Grace does, but to the story they’re expendable. We are incapable of feeling bad for them, and this is one of several times that Ready or Not flirts with exploitation.
Yet directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (Southbound) stay just on the right side of satirising the violence of the wealthy. They are ably assisted by Samara Weaving, who refuses to be a victim even if she cannot always maintain the rage in the face of terror. Because Ready or Not is a movie about justifiable anger, and it is impossible to take the side of the Le Domas clan. Matriarch Becky (Andie MacDowell, The Last Laugh) and brother-in-law Daniel (Adam Brody, Shazam!) provide a modicum of empathy, but the lines are clearly drawn. The cast are thoroughly committed to this bit, and Ready or Not is grounded enough to make the audience care, but never to make them anxious.
Ready or Not is a class warfare movie that is more optimistic than real life would ever allow. Weaving is a one woman Final Girl who, even when she lacks the upper hand, maintains a steely resolve. In this new horror era of women not simply standing idly by to be slashed, Ready or Not may contain a few mixed messages, but is ultimately a successful examination of The Deadliest Game.
Ready or Not opened in Australian cinemas on October 24, 2019.
Directed by: Matt Bettinelli-Olphin and Tyler Gillet.
Starring: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien, Henry Czerny and Andie MacDowell.