Fox Searchlight provides some unexpected delights this summer with Ready or Not. What should be a silly thriller winds up having more sharp edges than anticipated. Dark humor and gory deaths abound, but what brings extra zest to the production is Samara Weaving’s refreshingly genuine performance.
Dawn of a Horror Heroine
The heart of Ready or Not lies in the hands of the blushing new bride Grace (Weaving). She shoulders the burden of the only major character arc, and also represents the audience’s reactions to the outrageous premise. The idea of a wealthy family hunting down new additions during Hide and Seek is hard to fathom. Not to mention that they’re doing it thanks to a deal with the devil that garnered them their fortune.
With that in mind, Weaving had her work cut out for her in Ready or Not. While she could easily have gone the Scream Queen route and handed viewers a fast-paced but rote horror film, she and the directors took it a step further. Grace finds the Le Dumas tradition bewildering, but her incredulity is combined with real heartbreak over her wedding day. The moment when she rips her dress in order to prepare for a fight, for example, is a standout. It contains both the vindication of the heroine stepping up but also the tragedy of the life she lost.
Weaving maintains her intensity throughout Ready or Not, but she never becomes one-note. Running the gamut from ironic commentary to pure emotion, she is indisputably the star of the show. But she does receive solid support from the rest of the cast, especially Adam Brody as the lone Le Dumas family with sense (and a conscience).
Ready (or Not?) for a Glimmer of Social Commentary
One of the more interesting elements of the film is also its least obvious. While Ready or Not can easily be summarized by the line, “F*cking rich people,” they are not the ones who suffer most of the consequences. There is an undercurrent of class struggle present throughout that begs a little more elucidation.
The fact that Grace grew up in foster homes without a penny to her name is brought up often enough, though her in-laws never suggest that’s a reason to hunt her. Instead, they are ‘forced’ to prey on the weak in order to maintain their livelihood (and their lives). It’s a clever commentary, but perhaps it’s not commented on enough. Especially when you consider that the bulk of bodies piling up before the climax belongs to servants in a running gag. Even when the wealthy aren’t specifically out to get you, you’ll still get got.
While Ready or Not may not be the smartest horror film that’s come out in the last year, its kernels of brilliance make it a worthwhile watch. The film will be out in theaters August 21st, after which Samara Weaving should become a household name.