Welcome to Week 1 of 10 Weeks of Spooktober!
Hello, Emily here. I’m reintroducing myself to you because this 10 Weeks of Spooktober blog series is a personal project of mine, as we enter into my favorite time of the year, pre-Halloween. College football starts today (Go Dawgs), NFL football starts next week (Geaux Saints), the weather (eventually) promises to get cooler, Starbucks and their competitors have started rolling out their pumpkin spice offerings, and MOST IMPORTANTLY… it’s scary movie season.
So this year, to count my way through pre-Halloween season and make the most out of this, the best time of the year, I am offering up 10 Weeks of Spooktober. In this blog series, I will watch and review one new (to me) horror movie each week. And we’re starting it all off with a movie now in theaters: Ready or Not.
Ready or Not is a 2019 horror comedy film written by Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy and directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett. The story starts off innocently enough. Grace (played by Samara Weaving) is marrying Alex (Mark O’Brien), a member of the extremely wealthy Le Domas family, who earned their fortune through their board game empire. Based on this introduction to the happy couple, one might think the only thing Grace has to worry about is her kids getting called “Le Dumbass” in school. If I were Grace, that would be my main concern, anyway.
But no, there’s more to this family than meets the eye, as is first hinted at in a disturbing flashback scene in which a younger Alex hides in a cupboard while his older brother Daniel helps his family track down and murder a dude. Oh yeah. Things got dark.
Alex tries to warn Grace that his family is “quirky” and even gives her an out. Before the wedding, he says if she wants to call the whole thing off, it would be okay. But what is he, crazy? Grace is a girl with no money and no family who is dying to marry into a close-knit wealthy family. Hell no she isn’t backing out.
After the ceremony, we find out just how weird the Le Domas family truly is. You see, they have a little family tradition to welcome a new member into the fold. They invite Grace to play a game with them. After she plays the game, she will truly be a member of the family. All she has to do is draw a card and they will play whatever game is on that card and call it a night. If she draws checkers, then great. They’ll play checkers. But she draws the one card no one wants to see…
Yeah, so. If you draw the Hide and Seek card, apparently the family chases you down, ties you to a table, and sacrifices you to Satan. Rich people, am I right? Too bad no one thought to tell Grace this.
After the premise is established, what follows is a pretty fun film in which members of the family chase Grace around an atmospheric and mysterious mansion, complete with hidden passageways, a surveillance system, and oh yeah, a pit where they toss dead corpses (human and animal). Man, I could seriously smell that thing through the movie screen. It was pretty impressive.
Ready or Not included a lot of the things you would expect from a horror comedy film. There were plenty of funny moments, like when the wrong people keep accidentally getting killed. It’s clear this family doesn’t want to murder anyone but they know they have to in order to maintain their status. So a lot of the laughs come from what reluctant and inept murderers most of these people are. This movie also has one of my favorite horror comedy elements (something I feel like Sam Raimi really perfected in Evil Dead 2): the protagonist’s slow unraveling as everything falls apart around her and she gradually becomes more bloody, messy, and unhinged.
As fun as Ready or Not was, however, it was in no way a perfect movie. Hitting that right note between horror and comedy is REALLY HARD. I cannot imagine even attempting it. And this movie definitely had moments where it seemed like it was going too hard for a laugh. Really, there’s nothing more off-putting than feeling like someone is TRYING to make you laugh.
And speaking of trying too hard, this movie was going in hard on a theme, and as such, sometimes the dialogue and plot points were a little too “on the nose.” The point of the movie seems to be that the ridiculously wealthy are not like normal people. They have difficulty connecting with people who are “not one of them,” and they will do whatever they need to do in order to keep up their status, even if it means sacrificing others. Literally. To Satan.
Still, who really expects perfection from a movie like this? Overall, I thought it was a lot of fun, and I was fully entertained for the movie’s appropriately short runtime. Samara Weaving was not new to me (I’d seen her before in the less impressive Netflix movie The Babysitter), but she still surprised me in this movie. I loved the edginess she brought to Grace’s character. Even in the beginning, before anything with the Le Domas family went down, there was a toughness to Grace. That made her actions throughout the movie more believable, and I attribute a lot of that to Weaving’s interpretation of the character.
I rated this movie a 4/5 on Letterboxd. An excellent way to start off this 10 Weeks of Spooktober! Come back next week when I’ll be discussing another new (to me) horror movie.