Two Cents is an original column akin to a book club for films. The Cinapse team will program films and contribute our best, most insightful, or most creative thoughts on each film using a maximum of 200 words each. Guest writers and fan comments are encouraged, as are suggestions for future entries to the column. Join us as we share our two cents on films we love, films we are curious about, and films we believe merit some discussion.
Over the last few years, Samara Weaving has been steadily accumulating the credits to qualify as a genre favorite. With her combination of movie star looks and high-energy mania, the sight of Weaving striding through movies caked in blood while grinning from ear-to-ear has quickly become a delightfully familiar sight.
Weaving has more than acquitted herself as sidekicks and antagonists in films like Mayhem, The Babysitter, and Guns Akimbo, and just this past summer she literally stole the show in Bill & Ted Face the Music.
But in Ready or Not, Weaving is your front and center final girl. Ready or Not, the third in 2019’s epic “fuck rich people” triumvirate that also includes Parasite and Knives Out, stars Weaving as Grace, a young woman who has recently married into the famous and wealthy Le Domas family. Having never known a family of her own, Grace hopes that the expansive Le Domas brood will welcome her into their midst and accept her as one of their own.
Things…do not go as planned.
The origins of the Le Domas family fortune lie in board games, and so the tradition is to always consecrate a new addition to the family through a game, selected at random. The one game you must hope to never, ever draw is hide and seek.
Grace gets hide and seek.
It quickly becomes clear that there are life and death stakes to this particular game, and that if Grace gets discovered before dawn, it’s game over forever.
On the hunt for Grace is a murderer’s (natch) row of actors including Andie MacDowell, Henry Czerny, Melanie Scrofano, Kristian Bruun, and Adam Brody as the family’s alcoholic black sheep who can’t hide that he’s rooting for Grace even as her survival means that the devil’s doom will fall on the Le Domas clan.
A low-budget hit, Ready or Not comes to us from directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, members of the excellent filmmaking collective Radio Silence which did such terrific work in segments of Southbound and V/H/S.
So we’re covering our eyes and starting to count. And when we hit ten, we’re going on the hunt. Ready or not.
Next Week’s Pick:
We’ve had a great time this spooky season, but it’s almost time to put away the cobwebs and bats, and also all the fake decorations, and start bracing for winter.
But we’re going out with a bang. The 1985 original Fright Night, available on Amazon Prime, is the perfect Halloween movie, stuffed silly with monsters and mayhem.
Would you like to be a guest in next week’s Two Cents column? Simply watch and send your under-200-word review to twocents(at)cinapse.co anytime before midnight on Thursday!
My big takeaway from Ready or Not on my rewatch is that the ending is the best possible version of “having your cake and eating it too.” The movie spends so much of the lead up to the final moments playing close to the chest with whether the deal with “Mr. Le Bail” is real. It even gets some of the best jokes in the movie out of it, like Fitch’s Google-search “pacts with the devil real or bullshit.” But any savvy audience member knows the movie will have to choose one or the other by the end.
And the way it goes about that is one of the most perfectly executed beats in any horror-comedy I’ve seen. The initial beat of the curtains coming open to let the sunrise in and the La Domas all hissing at it like vampires before realizing nothing’s happening to them would be funny enough on its own. Providing a glimpse at what a “none of it was real” version of this movie might look like. However, that version of the story would leave this rich, incompetent, and evil family in a position of power to cover up the night’s events however they please. So, when Aunt Helene is the first to explode and the needle drops on the same song that played as Grace initially went to hide, we get a gory spectacle of this pathetic family getting exactly what they deserve. The audience gets to share in Grace’s delirious laughter over the spectacle of seeing these assholes turn into sniveling wrecks before it’s their turn to add to the splatter.
My personal interpretation being Le Bail’s letting each of them see what kind of pathetic beast they really are before it’s their turn, particularly how the father explodes after asserting he’s “in control” because he “followed the rules” and Alex begging Grace for another chance after he turned her over for the sacrifice.
It’s all, pardon the pun, a blast to behold.
Verdict: Treat (@WC_WIT)
I can’t believe I waited so long to watch Ready or Not. I liked it so much, I’m at kind of a loss as far as what to focus on. It’s sort of The Most Dangerous Game by way of Cabin in the Woods, but that still doesn’t quite get it. Ready or Not is very much a movie about contemporary America. It is about the depravity that comes with extreme privilege. It’s about the insane degree of economic disparity in the country and how the myth of self-made wealth always serves to obscure a truth of exploitation. Plus it’s about family.
Ready or Not is smart and fun and full of some pretty grisly violence. Samara Weaving is great. Adam Brody is great. Melanie Scrofano and Kristian Bruun are hilarious. Plus it’s got Henry “Kittridge from Mission: Impossible” Czerny as the dad! Seriously, this is one of the best movies I’ve watched in a while.
Verdict: Treat (@T_Lawson)
I am here to support the fact that Samara Weaving is becoming the go-to actor for any role requiring her to look cool and end up covered in blood, possibly while carrying an improbable weapon. Her verve and enthusiasm in movies like The Babysitter, Mayhem, and Guns Akimbo have all elevated those films far beyond what they would have been, otherwise. Thankfully, in Ready or Not, we actually got a film that’s as much fun overall as Weaving’s performance is on its own (Melanie Scrofano and Kristian Bruun are also nothing short of magical, as is Adam Brody).
While I am aware that splattery comedy violence is not for everyone, it is 100% my fucking jam, and the sheer joy with which people get taken out in this movie is cackle-worthy. Given the fact that this and Knives Out released within weeks of one another last year, it was amazing to see the way in which big casts dealt with the idea of family interactions via the possibility of offing one another. It’s not subtle, but revisiting that shit in the midst of a pandemic, where every discussion is heightened by a factor of a thousand? Revelatory, folks.
Verdict: Treat (@nuthousepunks)
What’s great about Ready or Not is how bad the Le Domas family is at being bad. It’s typical for these sort of “cults on the hunt” movies to make the cults and killers hyper-capable and seemingly able to plan five thousand steps ahead (looking at you, Midsommar).
But in Ready or Not, the most consistent producer of both comedy and laughs is how incompetent these people are at doing the evil deeds they need to do to survive. They can’t use the weapons properly, they bicker and fight over the smallest things, and half of them don’t even believe in the supposed magic that’s motivating them to bloodshed. As a running joke it’s funny, but it’s also successful as infuriating satire. These people have inherited their money, or married into it, and now they’re unquestioningly perpetuating horror and violence because they’ve been told it’s the only way to keep what they have.
My only real knock on Ready or Not is in comparison to other Radio Silence joints. I know these guys can deliver exceptional scares when they want to, and instead Ready or Not is fairly soft-serve mainstream horror. It’s worth it though for the literally-explosive climax where they really get to break out the gore-packed firehoses and show folks just how far they’re willing to go.
Verdict: Treat (@TheTrueBrendanF)
“Delightful” isn’t a word that most would naturally pair to a horror joint, but Ready or Not’s scathing and hilarious take on wealth and privilege is precisely that, and uses horror as catharsis — in that sense it lines up nicely with similarly toned, humorously violent films like You’re Next, Mayhem, The Belko Experiment, and The Hunt, all of which are very much my jam.
“Bride deprived of her wedding night” is such a weighted concept that it almost feels like cheating, but Weaving really does a wonderful job of showing us the pain and fury of a woman who has her life upended on what’s supposed to be the happiest day of her life.
While there’s certainly a vein of comedy running through the film, mostly centered around the bumbling idiocy and hypocrisy of the so-called elites, it also serves up some truly memorable scenes of terror: perhaps most notably Grace’s discovery of what lies beneath the stable.
With a finely tuned cast, solid pacing, and plenty of thrills and laughs, Ready or Not is an easy recommend of a smart and eminently watchable film.
Verdict: Treat (@VforVashaw)
Next week’s pick: