Ready Or Not: A Critical Look at the Unrequited Ode to the “In-Laws”

Ready Or Not has finally hit the theaters, and I have a lot to say about it. (Caution: SPOILERS AHEAD!)

The mystery-thriller set in the present day follows the story of Grace and her journey to outlast and outwit her brand-new in-laws as they hunt her down in a deadly game of hide-and-seek. And while I can rip up the little pieces of the movie that I deemed “excessive”, the movie’s concept is built to be excessive itself.

Between climbing up in socioeconomic status, marrying into wealth, and defining what “family” truly is, this film is sure to stir you up in more ways than one. (Again, do NOT proceed if you want a spoiler-free discussion on the movie).

Tossing together the gory nature of a slasher film, the evident nods to the classic ‘whodunnit’ and history of board games, and the heavy weights that come with family tradition, Ready Or Not will shock you in ways you didn’t expect… or…. at least, in ways that I didn’t expect.

Ready Or Not showed me that while it seems like an “old-fashioned thing to do”, it might be best to get to know the family you’re potentially going to marry into. There will always be a trope about in-laws and the potential disagreements that may arise, but if this film teaches us anything, it’s that being well-versed in your man’s family heritage and practice is better than being hunted on the night of your wedding. Our bridal protagonist, Grace, learns this the hard way.

As crazy as it seems, this movie made complete sense to me despite its extreme take on family tradition, legacy, and a woman’s self-worth.

With an already-broken, terrible family background, Grace deemed to be unfit for the Le Domas family, (which is established from the moment that the film began and resurfaces in various ways throughout the film,) so losing anything, including her new family’s approval, is a complete loss. But marrying into wealth and riches, she has everything to gain, right? WRONG. Grace is amidst this deadly game as her new family is planning to capture her and kill her as a human sacrifice, all because she pulled the wrong card. The audience witnesses the emotional, mental, and physical stripping of her being as she tries to find a way to make it out alive –some instances voluntary, but unfortunately, most are involuntary.

Even before the games, Grace was trying to survive the ceremony itself as well as being on her best behavior around her new relatives. Her demeanor is hidden, stressed, and unaware of everything and everyone around her. And given that her new family fully believes and carries out satanic rituals to continue their legacy and lineage, being unaware puts her at a disadvantage way before the games begin.

But it seems like the Le Domas boys knew and planned for this… Hear me out:

If we’re looking at the finer details, both Daniel Le Domas and Alex Le Domas’s wives both came from broken homes and/or messed up paths. Although the chances of the new addition to the family pulling the ‘death’ card during their traditional family game night is slim to none, it’s almost as if the Le Domas were choosing their mates based on the worst possible scenario that may or may not play out. Grace just so happened to be willing to fight against the entire Le Domas estate.

Daniel’s wife, ironically named Charity, states her willingness to be apart of the Le Domas family regardless of the potential risk of death because she had nothing else to live for. She embodies the antithesis of Grace, in which she comes off as arrogant, selfish, and stuck-up. Although they both came from less fortunate paths, they both were given an opportunity to marry into wealth and into a “stable” family, but they both act completely different. If both women come from unfit backgrounds and families, are these boys choosing these disadvantaged women as easy sacrifices in the case that she pulled the deadly ‘hide-and-seek’ card? If that’s the case, these men never actually fall in love –they’re baiting broken women for their blood to carry on their family’s lives and legacy. Tragic.

Don’t get me started on the crazy aunt and the daughter of the Le Domas dominion.

Without a religious bias or agenda, this movie seemed to have a strong aroma of spiritual symbolism.

Whether the writers intended to or not, there was an abundance of religious allusions from Grace’s character. Just by the name Grace alone, everything done to her is literally wiped out, burned, and cleared away –that alone can be the ultimate symbol of the Big Man Himself. By her taking on the actual sins, lives, and blood, evident in the evolution of her wedding dress throughout the film, Grace could be symbolic like a holy lamb that is made to be sacrificed. Grace was also gruesomely nailed when crawling out of the hole in the goat shed.

In what seemed to be a reflection of the cult classic, Heathers, the ending of Ready Or Not shows us a blood-soaked Grace, smoking a cigarette on the steps of the burning Le Domas mansion.

While the gruesome adventure had its twists and turns, the film deemed to be a cult classic of its own in the sense that the film is completely unlike movies that are popularized in today’s film trends. Outstanding and unexpected, this movie was a delight in its own way. And while this movie has its own hidden messages and other notable symbolism, one thing is blatantly clear:

“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned
Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.”
– “The Mourning Bride” by William Congreve (1697)

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