Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, Ready Or Not is a riotously funny and action‐packed horror film, which is best seen on a big screen with a cheering, screaming audience.
The film follows Grace (played by Samara Weaving who takes everything the directors throw at her on the chin), who we first find secretly smoking a cigarette on her wedding day.
Dressed in a gorgeous white lace wedding dress, Grace is living her dream; she’s marrying her handsome and also fairly wealthy partner Alex, whose family has made a name for themselves in the board game industry.
After the ceremony, Grace is ready to get down and dirty with her new hubby, but Alex informs her that they must engage in an old family tradition of playing a game. More specifically, Grace must draw out a card from a mysterious box that will determine the entertainment for the evening.
Grace pulls out a card that says ‘Hide and Seek’ in bold letters and off she goes to hide, bemused by the seemingly silly tradition, and slightly annoyed her wedding night is being robbed from her by a game.
Alex looks devastated when she leaves the room and the rest of the family start picking their weapons. You see for the Le Domas dominion, Hide and Seek is a deadly game where the family hunts and eventually kills the new bride before dawn.
And you thought your in‐laws sucked.
For the most part, Ready Or Not plays out like a fairly conventional horror tale. There’s inventive kills, plenty of quotable one-liners and even some mythology present.
It steers close to another film, 2013’s You’re Next, which also featured a young woman pitted against unknown attackers at her boyfriend’s house.
The difference here is that Grace is hunted by the family members themselves, and she is well out of her depth. Erin from You’re Next was equipped to fight the attackers, but Grace doesn’t know any karate, how to shoot a gun and has no previous fighting experience.
Yet Grace is about as iconic as Final Girls come. Back in the 90’s, film author Carol J. Clover coined the term for the sole surviving female character at the end of horror films. She alone has been able to defeat the killer, but she often also has some traditionally masculine qualities to her, and she abstains from drinking and sex.
We’ve come a long way since then of course, and today’s Final Girls can be promiscuous and get drunk all they want, but Grace remains a character who is somehow both a traditional Final Girl, and an outcast in the group of iconic female heroines of horror.
Grace, like most Final Girls, is unequipped to deal with the terrors of the night, but she is resourceful and bright, able to quickly react and adapt to her terrifying and dangerous situation. Grace is much more feminine and more openly sexually active than her horror sisters, but she has some classic Final Girl qualities.
She gets her own swanky costume. Dressed in her now‐torn wedding dress, complete with a shotgun, a belt of ammo and trainers, Grace is instantly iconic in her new survivor look. Her dress will only get more torn, dirtier and bloodier from this point onwards, until a delightfully bloody finale which feels like a cherry on top. I predict this will, and should, become a wildly popular Halloween costume.
Grace will also only turn to violence as a last resort. Many Final Girls will kill the villain at the end, symbolically penetrating them with a large knife, but Ready Or Not’s outlook on violence is a very different one.
Grace doesn’t want to hurt these people, she can barely understand why all this is happening, but she is also pissed off, rightfully so. Can you imagine being hunted down by your new family on your wedding night? Talk about a disappointing night!
In one particularly fun scene, Grace is forced to hurt a child. Violence against children is usually a big no‐no in cinema, even in horror. Grace at first thinks the child has come to her aid and asks him for help, only for him to shoot her. Bummer.
She will not only defend herself, but she will cause pain and by the end, she will allow people to perish if it means she survives and gets her due revenge.
She is simultaneously a predator and a victim, forced to adapt and transform during the narrative, going from a happy newlywed to a deadly bride.
Without spoiling too much of the end, something so bonkers you must see it to believe it, the ending only strengthens Grace’s status as a new‐kind of Final Girl. As it turns out, there’s more at play here than meets the eye, something a little more sinister and perhaps supernatural.
While most horror films have a lot going on under the surface, Ready Or Not is surprisingly straight forward and delightfully no‐BS about its narrative and themes.
This is not to say the film is dumbed down, but it simply attempts to keep things simple and fun. And fun it is. Come for the gore and jokes, stay for the female empowerment.
Ready Or Not is out in UK cinemas now.