Saturday, June 27, 2020

Ready or Not (2019)

* major spoilers *

Grace marries Alex Le Domas, heir to the family's board game fortune, at their luxurious, historical estate. The family requires that she play a game with them at midnight, chosen by a puzzle box. She figures it's a quaint, silly tradition and complies, picking Hide and Seek. While Grace obliviously  hides, the family gathers their weapons and prepare to hunt her through the night as they have done with others in the past.

Ready or Not is a horror comedy done right. The runtime is tight with not a minute wasted. The exposition is expertly handled. Grace's background as an orphan is introduced in a conversation with her fiance that also establishes their adorable relationship. Alex was estranged from his family until he met Grace and reconnected with them because family means so much to her. The rest of the Le Domas crew is seen during a photoshoot that includes a lot of snobbery and judgment. Alex's alcoholic brother Daniel and their mother Becky (also from a poor family) are the only outliers who seem to like Grace. Great aunt Helene is the most judgmental as she glares at Grace throughout in an amazing display of physical comedy, hunching over like a gnarled troll and scowling. The wedding is glossed over to get to the meat of the film.

Grace is understandably shocked and distraught that her in-laws seriously mean to kill her. The happiest day of her life turns into a night of fighting for her life. Scared and frantic, she hides and runs from the family until they force her to physically fight back. The horror of the situation never really goes away and I was thankful she didn't become some supernaturally tough final girl. Her actions are realistic and keep her alive despite some mistakes here and there.  Grace's emotions hover around hurt, scared, and panicked throughout the ordeal. Her anger starts to take over about half way through the film and only grows. Her rage and curse-filled outburst at a rich man rides away from her is particularly cathartic. She doesn't really want to hurt anyone, but she will in order to survive. Her physical transformation from happy, beautiful bride to dirt and blood caked, injured, and righteously angry shows everything she's been through and reflects her emotional journey as well. Samara Weaving is amazing as Grace and keeps her grounded in reality while navigating this outlandish premise.

Once the card is chosen and the family is on the hunt, everything changes. Established relationships are put into question and anything could happen. Alex has to choose to help his new wife escape or murder her along with his family, who have been indoctrinating him with their toxic ideaology his whole life. Every other member of the Le Domas family and staff is acting together to kill Grace, whether it's eagerly or reluctantly. Everyone buys into the idea that she needs to die for them to live to some extent. It's a running gag that all of the maids die gruesomely one by one (mostly due to Alex's coked up sister), but these people that make their house run mean nothing to the family except the inconvenience of the mess and body disposal. The family expects others to give their lives for their own wealth and prosperity, much like the incredibly wealthy making money off of the backs of minimum wage workers not able to easily afford the cost of living. The supernatural element is a fun twist and shows the evil nature of and exploitation necessary for this amount of wealth.

Alex and his brother Daniel grew up with the same indoctrination, but choose different paths. Alex goes along with the family eventually when he realizes that Grace will never be with him after this. The signs were there on rewatch because he almost kills his father (only stopping when Daniel intervened) and threatens to kill his mother if Grace dies. He separated from the family but when his life and wealth were truly threatened, he went with tradition. Daniel numbs himself with alcohol and goes along sarcastically with whatever his family does. He creeps on Grace in a feeble attempt to get her to leave, but also seriously gives her a way out while Alex keeps her completely in the dark. Later, he runs into Grace and gives her a significant head start before alerting his family. These small rebellions foreshadow his ultimate choice. He (mildly) poisons his whole family to save Grace and breaks the cycle of essentially feeding off of people. Aunt Helene used to be like Daniel, but through years of benefiting and believing in their satanic benefactor, becomes a hardened, cruel woman driven by greed.

The ending is incredibly satisfying and hilarious. The very last scene is one of my favorites of any movie. I convinced my mom to see this with me and she's completely obsessed with it, watching it at least once a week for months. I will never get tired of it. It's so much fun each and every time with just enough suspense, humor, and righteous anger with no wasted time. It also pairs well with Knives Out and Parasite with its "eat the rich" themes. Highly recommended.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins