Hollywood’s self-imposed ban on movies about class-based killing has lasted less than two weeks.
Earlier this month, you may recall, Universal agreed to cancel the planned release of The Hunt, in which “elites” go hunting for “deplorables,” following complaints of political bias and questionable timing. Universal’s decision seemed tactful in the wake of mass shootings, although finding a window of tact between mass shootings grows more difficult all the time.
Anyway, today we have the release of Ready or Not, a horror/comedy about a 99 percenter (Samara Weaving) who marries into a rich family, and learns on her wedding night that to gain admittance to the rarefied Le Domas dynasty, she must participate in a parlor game — perhaps a harmless game of checkers or cards? What she doesn’t know is that if she draws the wrong card, she must play a deadly game of hide-and-seek that ends with her offered up as a human sacrifice to the dark forces that have allowed the family to accumulate and retain unlimited wealth.
And I don’t mean Grover Norquist.
This being a horror movie, she gets the hide-and-seek card, and spends the dusk-till-dawn hours in a locked-down Gilded Age mansion, pursued by old money (Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell) maniacs in fancy dress, stalking her with elephant guns and crossbows and derringers and other relics that date to the (Teddy) Roosevelt administration.
The movie’s interest in Robber Baron iconography (Newport-ish mansions with candelabras, dumbwaiters, white-gloved servants, period phonographs playing period Tchaikovsky) is a bit puzzling, given that we are said to be living in a new Gilded Age with a whole new array of plutocrats, but it does give Ready or Not some classic haunted-house ambience.
Its sensibilities are more modern — the "f" word gets thrown around a lot, and often in place of genuine wit (this is one horror movie sorely in need of a ghostwriter), and the violence is delivered with a snarky sense of humor. There are accidental murders played for slapstick laughs, which has the effect of emphasizing the viciousness, carelessness, and selfishness of the ruling-class Le Domas family.
They are, in a word, deplorable, and plucky Grace, raised in foster homes and told by spiteful in-laws that she will never be “one of us,” becomes a suitable rooting interest, trading her heels for Chuck Taylors and giving as good as she gets. The movie is short enough to endure, and those with reasonably strong stomachs and a tolerance for sadistic laughs will enjoy the ending.
Ready or Not. Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett. With Samara Weaving, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell, Adam Brody, and Mark O’Brien. Distributed by Fox Searchlight.
Running time: 1 hour, 35 mins.
Parents guide: R (violence, language)
Playing at: Area theaters