Each and every person who has grown up and is currently living a lower to middle-class life knows better than anyone that rich people are weird: weird spending habits, weird obsession with personal brand, and even weirder traditions. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s Ready or Not is a phenomenal horror-comedy that has much more to say about the financial state of the world than one would expect. Combining two genres that work incredibly well together makes this film both a hilarious, bloody ride and one that forces its audience to shift their perspective on why they are laughing or shuddering in the first place. Along with an exceptionally memorable performance from its lead and some terrific set pieces, this film reveals itself to be one of the most socially aware horror films of our current day.
Grace (Samara Weaving) and Alex (Mark O’Brien) are hesitantly getting ready for their wedding day and to spend the rest of their loving lives together. When Grace is informed of a tradition that the Le Domas clan partakes in whenever a new member of the family is added, she is forced to play a game of hide and seek but with one, little twist: Alex’s entire, extended family is trying to kill her and she must survive until dawn.
Samara Weaving is one of the most talented and versatile genre actresses of our current day and her casting in this film is just exquisite. Her performance as Grace is incredible and she really embodies this role in such an eccentric fashion that makes the audience fall for her powerful heroine. Not only does she steal every scene throughout this film with her character’s headstrong development but she declares herself a literal scream queen more than any other horror actress I have seen in years. This film is such an extraordinary horror-comedy that is both accessible for anyone to watch and equally as entertaining. The balance of comedy and horror that writers Guy Busick and R. Christopher Murphy display is fantastic. They are able to nail the jump scares that a horror film of this magnitude needs and the comedy to lighten it up as well. There is just enough campy material and expectedly goofy plot choices to make this film stand on its own as a solid entry into the horror genre but the level of clever writing is what sets it apart from the rest. The real reason as to why this film contains such a natural blend of fear and comicality is because we, as a lower to middle-class audience as opposed to the Le Domas family, are able to distinguish between right and wrong and the consequences that come with the latter. On its surface, Ready or Not functions as a bloody and violently fun horror film that is viscerally painful at times to watch but its overarching desire to make the audience reevaluate is what stands out the strongest.
Many moments throughout this excellently crafted horror film lend themselves to laughter and we the audience laugh just as intended. Not because the Le Domas family tracking and hunting Grace is genuinely funny but because the rampant egotism they show only reinforces our ideas of their obliviousness to the real world. Rich people spend their lives in a cloud of wealth hovering over normal people and being born into this type of wealth leads the way to some unbreakable traditions that some families can never seem to shake. This is where practically all of the comedy comes from is seeing the Le Domas family whine and bicker over the most trivial of things. In any sensible person’s mind, accidentally killing all of your maids and shaking it off like it’s nothing is horrifying. From the outside, the audience can crack up due to the borderline absurdity of this story and the supernatural reasons as to why they want to kill Grace but it is actually terrifying knowing how ignorant these socialites are towards the real world. Comedy in the genre of horror is often used to undercut the tension that filmmakers can create but in the case of Ready or Not, the difference between true terror and a mild inconvenience is only a shift of class perspective away.
These reasons are also why the character of Grace becomes so easily lovable and authentic. Her family history of being tossed around foster homes as a child might only be explored in a few lines of the film’s exposition but it proves to be so critical for how she handles a bunch of socialites trying to kill her for the sake of tradition. There is a lot of fantastic comedy that Grace exhibits throughout Ready or Not but Weaving’s contributions to this film’s humor comes from a place of groundedness, which makes her very easy to root for. She is able to outsmart the Le Domas family with nothing but her common sense and while those stakes in antagonists are often much more raised in the horror genre, the writing brilliantly shows how easy it was for her to get the upper hand. Although I desperately hope that the wealthiest 2% of the world do not go to the extreme lengths of the Le Domas traditions in this film, what makes this movie the scariest is that in reality, it would not feel too off-kilter.
Just like we normal people have modest traditions to keep ourselves sane in a world run by ignorant billionaires, the wealthy have their own traditions to justify the despicable lives they lead. That might seem like an awful lot of ground to cover in a film about a deadly game of hide and seek but Ready or Not tackles the subject matter with equal parts terror and humor. Gillett and Bettinelli-Olpin have made one of the best horror films of 2019 and while we all rightfully dream of eating the rich, we cannot forget to take into account how bizarre their flavors are.