As I’ve previously discussed, the summer of 2019 has been fairly bereft of solid movies. We’ve had some great indie stuff, and a few outliers, but by and large it has been far from a sure thing heading into the theaters this summer. Hell, there’s even been some stuff like last week’s Luce that I ended up enjoying well enough, but found myself completely uninterested in talking about. So, you can imagine my excitement when I started to see a strange little sign of hope on the horizon. A few months ago I started seeing a trailer for a very strange little film which seemed to have a simple concept. A bride is forced to play a murderous game of hide and seek with her rich inlaws after the marriage. The trailer for Ready or Not is a very fun one, and I found myself eagerly anticipating this oddball little movie that I had never even heard of before the trailers started popping up, while still holding onto a grain of salt. Because there was something about that trailer that seemed to make me feel like it was either going to be 100% my kind of movie, or completely worthless. It was aiming for a very specific tone, and it seemed unlikely that it would end up hitting that bullseye. Well, folks, I am so incredibly pleased to inform you that this movie does indeed hit that bullseye. Ready or Not is a goddamn hoot.
The movie tells the story of a woman named Grace who has become engaged to Alex Le Domas, the heir to a massive empire built of board games. Alex has largely been estranged from his family, while Grace is an orphan, and he has been convinced to hold their wedding on his family’s palatial estate, as is tradition. And, it seems like the family is very big on tradition, which kind of puts Grace on edge, feeling very much like the outsider. But, she goes through the motions, meets Alex’s incredibly strange immediate family, and the two end up getting married. But, it turns out there’s one more step. Because every time someone marries into the La Domas family they have to meet in a special room at midnight, where they play a game. Alex’s father Tony then tells them the story of their family, starting with an ancestor who came to America and met a mysterious man named Mr. Le Bail. Their ancestor beat Le Bail in a card game, and in return was given a strange box, which prints the name of a game on it, and it’s that game that the new member of the family is forced to play. It’s random, and when Grace draws her card from the box she’s amused to see that it says “hide and seek.”
Unfortunately, that card doesn’t really mean what she thinks it means. She’s told she gets a 100 second head start to race around the mansion and hide before the family begins to find her. But, in actuality, they’re going to kill her. Apparently any other game that could have been listed would have led to a boring night playing an awkward game with family, but if the box suggests hide and seek the family is forced to capture the new family member before dawn and sacrifice them, or else Mr. Le Bail’s curse will take affect, their fortune will collapse, and they’ll all die. So, against Alex’s wishes, his family begin wandering the mansion, looking for Grace. Alex manages to escape them though, and explains to Grace what is happening, telling her that if they’d just eloped she would have died from the curse as well. So, the two make a plan where Alex will attempt to unlock the house and Grace can escape, while Grace loads up with a shotgun and prepares to flee without being seen. And, The film then plays out as a series of absurd set-pieces with Grace attempting to flee the terrible mansion, again and again, slowly uncovering just how insane this family truly is, all until she finally reaches dawn, the horrible family are taken care of, and she literally meets the devil. But, she made it through the night.
Like I said earlier, I really wanted to be excited about this film, but I felt myself kind of holding back when I watched the trailers. It seemed like a funny concept, the trailer showed that they were attempting to balance the comedy of the ridiculous scenario with some insane gore and violence, and the general aesthetic of the movie looked fun. But, that’s a very specific tone to try and nail, which is why so many horror/comedies fail, and with 2019’s track record I was kind of expecting to be disappointed. But, thankfully, I came away from this movie absolutely loving it. It’s an insane movie, that is somehow even more insane than the trailers let on. I mean, as soon as it became clear that the Devil was involved, I knew that I was hooked on this crazy-ass movie. It somehow manages to deliver on all the promises it makes, becoming a movie that is laugh-out-loud funny, incredibly tense, and full of insane blood and gore. A formula that is damn hard to pull off, but this film just makes it look easy, traipsing through it’s brisk runtime like anyone else is making movies like this. It’s an incredibly special feeling to be watching a movie you’re sure is going to become a cult classic in a few years, watching Samara Weaving walk around in a tattered wedding dress, yellow high-tops, and a shotgun like she knows people are going to start cosplaying it as Comic Cons for years to come. It’s a movie that almost immediately becomes iconic, and I really hope more people go check it out and find the cure to this lackluster summer. Because who doesn’t want to watch a badass woman take out a bunch of terrible one percenters?
Which, kind of ends up becoming the secret draw of this movie. Going into it, I kind of misunderstood the premise to mean that everyone who marries into this family is forced to participate in this murder game, I had no idea that there would be Devil shenanigans. But, when all of that backstory comes in, you immediately start to actively root against this terrible family. They made a literal deal with the devil to become rich, and now perpetuate a system that occasionally requires them to kill and butcher a random innocent person so that they can remain in possession of their ill-gotten wealth. And, folks, the Devil aside that is some incredibly realistic stuff. We live in a time where the rich of the world are putting the robber-barons of the twentieth century to shame, flaunting their lack of empathy to the world and making it seem like a positive trait. The world is a mess, largely thanks to people like the Le Domas family, who make it painfully clear that they put family and money above all else, even love, and it just strikes incredibly true. So, to see a poor orphan get ultimate comeuppance on them, shattering the world they built and literally burning their broken system to the ground ended up being remarkably cathartic. Just an added little bonus, but a much appreciated one.
Ready or Not was written by Guy Busick and R Christopher Murphy, directed by Matt Vettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, and released by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, 2019.
Categories: Reel Talk
Cool; this review engaged my interest; hopefully a cult classic!
I hope you like it! I feel like it’s kind of flying under the radar, and I just want more people to check it out, see what they think.