Ready or Not

Ready or Not ★★★½

There's a UK poster for this that makes it look just like You're Next. I suspect that's not an accident. It's kind of the same film? You could also draw comparisons with Crazy Rich Asians, or The Babysitter, but the film it made me think of most was Midsommar (and not just because I'm obsessed with Midsommar).

Both Ready Or Not and Midsommar have the same, mmm, not quite problem, but slight issue in that it's very, very obvious where both stories are going, to the point where it's tempting to call them predictable. By virtue of its sprawling length, Midsommar feels a little less so, but Ready Or Not, with its 95-minute runtime, is exactly beat-for-beat what you expect it to be. Happy couple Grace (Samara Weaving) and Alex (Mark O'Brien) are about to get married at his family's glorious Gothic mansion, but there are some tensions already because his family doesn't seem to like her, suspecting her of being more interested in his money than him. (Given that dude never develops a personality, honestly, who could blame her though?)

Still, the wedding goes off pretty smoothly... until the wedding night, when it turns out there's a Le Domas family tradition of playing a game at midnight. A mysterious Lament configuration-esque box is brought out, a card is drawn, and... it's Hide And Seek! Except the Le Domases play to a different set of rules, where Grace needs to hide, and they need to find her and sacrifice her to Satan before sunrise.

Cue mayhem. And, like, satirical mayhem, as the super rich Le Domases are clearly meant to represent the 1%, and Grace the plucky working class, forced to wade through almost literal shit and submit herself to all kinds of physical degradation before ultimately triumphing. Characters do what you know they're gonna do, every step of the way. (I did enjoy the scene I'm determined to take as a Jennifer's Body reference, though, where Grace begs Adam Brody's character Daniel not to sacrifice her to the devil out in the woods. Yeah, no, don't fancy your chances there.)

It's well-structured, I guess, it's just that it's a very familiar structure. You know they can't catch Grace until nearly sunrise, because that's how dramatic tension works. It's a horror film, we're going to need to see the ritual, so she can't escape before she gets there. You know that scene in Get Out, where you're just irrationally hoping that Rose isn't as bad as she seems, that she might actually come through with the car keys and not hand Chris over? The equivalent scene here absolutely doesn't work, because you know what's going to happen.

So all of that does rob the film of its urgency, and I shouldn't have invoked Get Out because, well, despite the parallels this doesn't have anywhere near as tight a script - there's an awkward over-reliance on making Samara Weaving say "fuck" in place of writing jokes, for one thing. But I still enjoyed it, just like I enjoyed Midsommar. It's satisyfing to watch it all play out. Yeah, it's obvious, but I'll take obvious and meticulously structured over chaotic and incoherent any day.

It's got some wince-inducing gore (at one point I shrieked "Noooooooooo!"), it doesn't stray into misogyny (Grace ripping up her wedding dress plays as symbolic, and is never sexualised), and - that Gothic mansion, I mean. No horror movie with candelabras could ever be entirely bad.

And then there's the ending, which again kind of made me think of Midsommar, only with even more demented glee. It's 2019, time to burn your bad boyfriends.

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