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BRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Ready or Not (18)
Starring: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody
Review: RJ Bland
Rich people are always getting it in the neck aren't they? To be fair, moaning about people that have more than we have is a common gripe that bonds us commoners together somewhat? You know what's worse than people with money? People with money who are entitled and who represent the excesses of capitalism and opulence. They're the worst! To be brutally honest, this theme is now more relevant than ever, with the gap between rich and poor as wide as it's ever been and there's just something cathartic about watching a conflict between the elite and a load of proles isn't there? Films like They Live offer pretty blunt (but effective) commentary on the gap between the have's and have-nots and even sci-fi fare like Elysium emphasises the opportunities and advantages afforded to the rich. More recently, James DeMonaco's The Purge franchise, which has been a huge hit, is at its core a franchise about the social and ruling classes trying to force through a bit of social cleansing. Another film that offers audiences some potential catharsis on the whole rich vs poor thing is Radio Silence's 'Ready or Not'.
Our 'commoner' here is a a young woman named Grace (Samara Weaving) who is about to get married to Alex, an affable young man, at his family's estate. Grace grew up in foster care but her hubby to be is one of the heirs to the Le Domas family fortune, which has been acquired over the last hundred years or so through a board game empire – as well as a bit of luck on the side. Marrying into money may sound cool but it comes with a catch. Alex's family are a collection of uppity snobs, alcoholics, drug users and just general assholes. Grace is determined to make a good impression however and when Alex informs her that their wedding night is going to consist of playing a game with the family (it's a Le Domas tradition apparently), she goes along with it. Expecting a game of chequers or poker, Grace is confused when Alex's father explains to her that she must participate in a session where she is required to draw a card from a mysterious wooden box and play the game written on the card to be a full-fledged member. Tony also recounts that his great-grandfather Victor Le Domas made a deal with a man named Mr. Le Bail, where Le Bail would help maintain the family fortune if the Le Domas family kept up the tradition. Grace draws from the box a card that reads "hide and seek." Unfortunately, once she has run off and found a place to hide, it doesn't take too long to work out that the rules are a little bit different. Namely, the seekers are all armed to the teeth with antique weaponry and have no intention of letting her survive the night...
Political and social commentary has always been important within the horror genre and where Jordan Peele's Get Out critiqued middle-class attitudes towards race, Radio Silence's 'Ready or Not' takes a subversive look at privilege and entitlement. 'Fuck rich people!', Grace yells at one point – and it's clear that disdain for the affluent is baked right into this film. The thing is, there is some good and redeeming features lurking somewhere within the blackened souls of the Le Domas family. Their motives may appear to be completely dark and sinister but ultimately the night is about survival for them as much as it is for the new bride who spends most of the movie creeping (or running) through the labyrinthine estate trying to evade her captors. The Le Domas family may be painted with broad strokes as a bunch of opulent asses, but if anything they are victims of wealth and success rather than pure benefactors.
However it's not this stuff that makes Ready or Not the success that it has been with general audiences and critics alike. At it's heart, the film is really a slasher movie – an inverse of the home invasion flick in many ways actually. Instead of a young woman trying to keep assailants from getting in, she spends the entirety of the movie trying to get out of the gigantic mansion she's imprisoned within. It's an 18 for a reason too – with some wince inducing scenes (trying to get out of the goat pit is fun!) and lots of blood and gore on offer too. Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett keep things moving at a frantic pace after a relatively unrushed opening fifteen minutes. The gloomy halls and walls filled with old paintings add an almost gothic element to proceedings too. The house almost feels like an entity itself. Ready or Not could have played out as a really nasty, brutal set of events but the mood is lightened considerably with some black comedy and a set of characters who all feel a little over the top and ripe. The constant in-fighting and family squabbling is matched by their ineptitude which makes it all feel a little bit less heavy than it could have done.
Samara Weaving is worth mentioning to. She was fab in The Babysitter (2018) and she follows that up here with a really great turn as the super pissed off final girl. She's good at the light-hearted stuff but also utterly convincing when she has to do the darker, more emotional beats.
On the down side, whilst the set up and mythology behind the Le Domas family is all rather interesting, once it gets into the swing of things it is essentially a very long game of cat and mouse. It also includes a couple of twists that most audiences will probably anticipate too. The mixture of comedy and horror works on some levels but you can't help but feel that in it's efforts to include both, it ends up being a little confused in terms of it's identity. From a humour perspective it's a little broad and from a horror perspective, some of the tension and suspense is eroded due to the fact you're probably not taking much of this very seriously. Ready or Not has it's tongue placed firmly in it's cheek for most of the running time and you'll either dig that or you'll end up wishing it took itself a little more seriously. Get Out got it spot on but here you feel they missed the target by just a fraction.
Either way, truth be told, you're still gonna have a bloody good time.
Ready or Not is a smart blend of horror and comedy with some candid commentary on the pitfalls of wealth. The tone may jar with some and it's rather formulaic at times but the entertainment value is undeniable.
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