This past Friday the new highly anticipated horror-comedy Ready or Not was released in theaters, and both horror fans and critics alike have fallen in love with it. This is better than your average slasher film, and not for the scares or laughs, but for the metaphors and real-life messages about class-divide and the anxieties of being poor that the film so cleverly stitches in between kills. Ready or Not is the film every poor and middle-class American needs to see right now. (Really…stop reading this and go see it! Why are you still reading? This article will be here when you get back, I promise! I’m going to spoil it below, so go see it!)
(Warning — Full spoilers ahead!)
Ready or Not stars Samara Weaving (daughter of actor Hugo Weaving from V for Vendetta) as Grace, a big-eyed, bright-smiling loveable blonde who is marrying the love of her life, Alex. Alex is a member of the Le Domas family, billionaires who made their fortune in board games since the time of the Great Depression. A tradition the Le Domas family holds dear is to play a game on the wedding night any time a new member of the family is welcomed in. Grace draws from a random card machine and pulls up “Hide and Seek.” What she doesn’t know is that the family are Satanists who made a deal for their fortune that if someone ever draws the “hide and seek” card they must be found and sacrificed to Satan before sunrise of that day or else the entire Le Domas family will die. They give Grace a one-hundred second head-start, and while she looks for a good place to hide, the family gears up with harpoons, axes, rifles, and crossbows. It isn’t until Grace sees one of the maids get killed by a family member, thinking it was her, that she learns the hunt is real. Her new husband, Alex, tries everything he can to help her, but his efforts can only go so far as Grace is continuously spotted, shot at and chased throughout the night.
When the audience gets to meet two of the other in-laws who drew safe games on their wedding night (chess, old maid), we learn they were poor kids who came from abusive families or foster homes, and they knew what they were getting into marrying into the rich family and signing their souls to the devil for a life of security and fortune, and did it because “anything is better than where I was before.” What the film does so well with these characters is humanizes them as poor people who were just so desperate to escape their lives of poverty and working 9–5 that we almost sympathize with them…almost.
As Grace narrowly escapes one near-death encounter after another, she takes out one family member (or maid or butler) at a time in the process, and as the numbers dwindle down and sunrise draws near, the family panics that their time on this earth might be up.
In a key scene between Alex and his mother, (played so wonderfully by the great Andie MacDowell), she expresses remorse and regret to her son, letting him know she hates this deal her family made with the devil, and that she thinks Grace is actually a sweet girl who would make a great addition to the family, but they have to kill her in order to save themselves. This scene is the most important in the film, showing the parallels in the modern world of many rich people who make their fortune by screwing over less fortunate, helpless people, knowing it is wrong, but continue to do it anyway to benefit themselves.
A day before Ready or Not was released, billionaire David Koch, one of the two infamous “Koch Brothers”, passed away and very few in America and around the world have been grieving since he is one-half of the two men who have single-handedly destroyed so much in our world, from buying politicians to block global climate initiatives that would protect and save our earth, to personally demolishing valuable and irreplaceable ecosystems that destroyed many species and human lives in the process. Like the Le Domas family, the Koch brothers are people who made choices in their lives that benefitted only themselves and caused harm and death to many others in the process. After his death, some of Koch’s highest-level workers and assistants said he was one of the most miserable people to work for or be around, proving again that in life happiness is often sacrificed for extreme wealth and power.
By the end of the film, Alex, who up to this point was helping his bride, turns on Grace and joins his evil family to sacrifice her just to save himself, showing once again that even the most noble and kind-hearted people would put someone else’s life in harm’s way to protect their own.
There is not a doubt in my mind that Ready or Not will ripen into a cult-classic and be studied in film schools for its messages about American class-warfare and social divides, and for showing that almost no one inherits a super-rich lifestyle without signing away their soul in some way. While those cars, mansions, jewels and parties feel good now, in the end the Devil always collects on his debts.
Even if you take out or miss seeing all of these messages and hints to “rich versus poor” in the film, Ready or Not is still a fun, fast-paced thrill ride full of humor and gore. The filmmakers could have easily just made this into a cliché slasher movie, but these elements of “regret for poor life choices”, making a deal with the devil, the anxieties of getting sucked into a toxic marriage, dealing with hateful in-laws, and having to literally fight for survival in this world while the rich continue to keep you down are so timely, relevant and well done that they elevate the film into “art” rather than just “entertainment”. Yes, it is violent, bloody art, but sometimes the most violent and bloody things have the most to say.
About the Author:
Brian Moniz is from San Jose, Calif. He studied filmmaking and writing at San Jose State University from 2010–2013 and got his bachelor’s degree in Radio-TV-Film. Throughout his high school and college years, he worked as a music and movie journalist and critic. Having only recently come out of the closet himself in 2014, Brian enjoys writing about LGBTQ issues. His only regret when it comes to his sexuality is that he didn’t come out sooner.