Many films of man hunting man often come with a commentary for how power structures betray us. Within Battle Royale, its the education system that pits children against each other. With The Running Man, it’s the prison system that treats freedom as a deadly game. There’s no missing the target of Ready or Not as the evils of capitalism and traditionalists. The film literally shouts its message at the top of its lungs in its absurd, bloody, and angry horror that is much fun as it is insightful in its commentary.
The Bloody Bride
Grace (Samara Weaving) is both excited and nervous to be marrying the love of her life, Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien). Though she seems to truly love Alex, his family doesn’t seem to love her. They’re a rich and disapproving bunch who range from distant to bitter about Grace getting married at the Le Domas family mansion. Alex’s father, Tony (Henry Czerny), whispers to his son about how disappointed he is in Grace entering the family. Alex’s aunt, Helene (Nicky Guadagni), doesn’t have to say anything; her garish grimace says it all. Still, some of the family are welcoming of her, even more than Alex. In fact, Alex gives her one last chance to dip out on the wedding for reasons that become clear that night.
Part of the Le Domas legacy is that their ancestors became wealthy by selling games but at a Satanic price. Those who enter into the family must play a random game before being accepted. Grace just happens to choose the most deadly game; hide & seek. She finds the game silly until she later realizes that once she’s found, the whole family are hunting her with classic weapons. But not to kill her exactly. No, they have something far more sinister and surreal in mind for her if they find her.
Eating the Rich
There’s no mistaking the commentary of Ready or Not as anything else but anti-capitalist with a brutal savaging of traditionalists. The Le Domas pursue Grace with an unhealthy level of family quibbling that is less concerned with murder and more concerned about the bloodstains on the carpet. Their need to hunt and kill on a wedding night comes out of a strange fear that they’ll lose all their wealth and health. That fear, however, is only present when they believe they could fail. When they’re winning, they don’t feel regret or pain. The general consensus among the family is that it’s just something that has to be done, their reasoning coming from decades of this act just being normal.
But that normal has become contorted and mutated over time. At the beginning of the film, we see a flashback from the 1980s where the hunt was treated more sternly and frightening with masks. The masks were abandoned because Tony felt it was just something weird his dad did. The family picks and chooses what traditions they want to maintain; Tony stresses how using the classic weapons of his ancestors is an important part of the ceremony but that security cameras are necessary because how could grandpa have foreseen such technology? Aspects of the game change but the end result is the same; someone must die so that the rich can stay rich.
Grace soon aims to break that tradition in a gruesome survival game. She becomes bloodied and beaten but pushes on to live through the night and maybe kill the Le Domas family along the way. She looks so good in her tattered wedding dress with tennis shoes that even she has to take a moment to admire how badass she looks while holding a rifle. Her chaotic night is filled with all manner of violence, including the maids and butlers being accidentally slaughtered along the way with a mere sigh of disappointment from the Le Domas. Did I mention the film was anti-capitalist? Just in case it wasn’t clear, Grace will literally shout “f**king rich people” in her outrage.
There are a number of family members after Grace that run a range of emotions for the hunt itself. Alex’s brother, Daniel (Adam Brody), is torn about deciding to either help Grace or casually let the game play out without his involvement. It becomes a little easier for him to make this call when a mother in the family mentions that her young children shouldn’t have to suffer Grace’s wrath. Any empathy we’d have for her quickly evaporates where in that same scene she congrats her young son for trying to shoot Grace, copying what the adults are doing. The family will constantly argue they deserve to live but prove time and time again that they are deeply flawed and evil people. The Le Domas house must fall and Grace is just the sort of woman to burn it all to the ground in a heap of blood and bone.
The blunt nature of the film’s grander message, however, allows for plenty of absurdity and violence in such a wild night of gore most giddy. The deaths are treated with a darkly comedic tone, where the very sight of skulls being crushed creates uneasy laughter, replaced with genuine laughter at the Le Domas family being only slightly moved in most incidents. The violence is unrelentingly savage, where characters will be shot with crossbows, shot, stabbed and, in one ridiculously over-the-top scene, crushed to death in a dumbwaiter. And the dialogue is so deliciously to the point that it’s a film as witty as it is vicious, where characters can be clever one moment and an overflowing pot of profanity the next.
Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have served up decadent and insightful horror romp that has much fun with its obvious allegory as its vivid brutality. The heavy-handed nature to making its message clear does have a certain okay-I-get-it vibe by the third act but thankfully recovers with a crazier conclusion to its tale of eating the rich. Ready or Not has no fears of making that meaning clear. It offers the audience some salt as they dine on watching a stuffy structure crumble. And, yes, it’s mighty tasty.
Have you had a chance to see Ready or Not yet? If so, what did you think of it? Do you think it’s just another re-tread of past “man hunting man” movies? Let me know in the comments section below. If you liked this review, how about you check out my review for IT Chapter 2.