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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Ready Or Not



Regardless of everything else that happened in the gleefully gruesome Ready Or Not, Grace (Samara Weaving) accomplished something none of the X-Men were able to do in 7 movies over 19 years: get married at the X-Mansion. The opulent estate that once housed Charles Xavier and his mutants stands in as the home of the Le Domas family - or the Le Domas Dominion as they like to be called. Grace is overjoyed to marry into a clan of billionaires who created an empire from selling board games and playing cards, but her delight lasts until exactly midnight before the Le Domases hunt her in a deadly game of hide-and-seek. For Grace, the Le Domas family is literally the in-laws from Hell.

Grace is an orphan who grew up in foster homes so the prospect of marrying Alex Le Domas (Mark O'Brien), heir to the dominion, and being part of an actual family is a dream come true for her. But while Alex is the prodigal son, he's no prize: he neglects to tell Grace about his family's little tradition that anyone marrying a Le Domas has to play a game with the family to prove they're worthy of being "one of us". Most times, it's a harmless board game but when Grace draws the card that says "hide-and-seek" from the family heirloom, a black box given to the patriarch Victor Le Domas by a mysterious Mr. Le Bail in the 19th century, the game turns deadly right away. Grace has to hide in the mansion, which is on lockdown, while the family, armed with weapons, hunts her. If she can make it to dawn, she wins - except the family has to kill and sacrifice her or else they'll all die themselves.

The great news is Samara Weaving is sensational and she's all-in as Grace, who literally has to fight off all of her in-laws and endures a night of pure torture. No one has suffered so much to be accepted into a family: Grace is shot and a hole is blown through her left hand, she's bloodied and scarred, she's tranquilized, survives a car crash, is stabbed in the shoulder, and she falls into a pit of goat and human corpses. Grace climbing out of said pit and forcing a nail through the hole in her left hand is one of the standout movie moments of 2019 along with Captain America ordering the Avengers to assemble and Brad Pitt beating a hippie to death by pounding her face into a wall. In fact, Grace can match Pitt in the face-pounding department, as her mother-in-law Becky (Andie MacDowell) found out.

Ready Or Not triumphantly (if a bit awkwardly) weaves black comedy, survival horror, a labyrinthine mythology about the Le Domas' family history, and pointed social commentary about how dirty and rotten the 1% can really be. Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have fun staging the whacked-out theatrics but they don't do a particularly splendid job utilizing the geography and layout of the Le Domas mansion to place the audience alongside Grace as she tries to escape her confinement. Along with Weaving, Adam Brody as Alex's conscience-stricken "weak" older brother Daniel is a standout, as is the family's lunatic patriarch Tony (Henry Czerny). Vitally, the ending delivers the goods, with a insanely gruesome sequence of events where the Le Domas family get their just desserts - not unlike how Professor X met his end thanks to Jean Grey in X-Men: The Last Stand. The unforgettable sight of the completely blood-covered Grace at the end is right up there with Florence Pugh covered in flowers at the end of Midsommar as two of the most fucked up climactic movie visuals of the year.