Ready or Not
At the Cinemark
Aside from the pastor being an hour late, I had a relatively normal wedding and reception. The honeymoon might have been more fun, I ran a fever well above 100 degrees that never broke until we left the beach house. By that time, Sue had caught the bug and slept in the back seat while I drove home. Happy Honeymoon.
Not complaining though. No one chased my bride with an elephant gun or a crossbow.
Grace wasn’t so lucky. Her idyllic wedding ran into some unusual resistance from the in-laws on wedding night.
“Ready or Not” is some surreal blend of “Rocky Horror Wedding,” “Kill Bill Some More” and “Carrie Gets Married.”
The film falls into the genre of Blood Poetry for me, a splatterfest that’s so cleverly written, so beautifully filmed and so well acted that I’m willing to tolerate the blood dripping off the screen.
In truth, I had a really good time at “Ready or Not,” which tickled my dark side. I had a hard time writing down some of the lines I loved in the dark, but I caught a few.
Here’s a sampling, out of context:
“I’m afraid Dara has been crushed by the dumbwaiter.”
“Take the maid to the goat pit.”
I was laughing often and clapped a few times at the campy script. As a Rocky Horror fan, I can see “Ready or Not” playing at midnight on a double bill uniting Brad, Janet and Grace.
We don’t get to do the time warp again, though. No sing-alongs in “Ready or Not.”
Instead “Ready or Not” gives us Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Wagner – and throws in “Love Me Tender” as seasoning.
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I stuck around to hear a whispered final line after the credits. Nice touch. The cinematography is quite exquisite, artfully capturing a mansion in intricate detail before torching the mahogany. (Cue Talking Heads, “Burning Down the House.”)
At the center of the marital hurricane is Grace, a lovely bride who we suspect might be a bit of a willing trophy wife, marrying into obscene wealth.
But we quickly learn that Grace is no Passive Patty. Once she finds out what’s going on during this midnight game of hide and seek, she throws shotgun shells over her shoulder, grabs her weapon, hitches up her wedding dress and faces off against her malevolent in-laws.
It’s quite a delicious showdown, said the Quaker, sheepishly.
The deeper story reverberating inside “Ready or Not” is class warfare. The entire script is a Marxist revolution, with the upper class finally getting their comeuppance from the ticked-off well-dressed proletariat. I’m surprised the soundtrack didn’t treat us to “Do you hear the people sing?”
The horde of the 1% finds themselves losing their battle against one well-armed lady in a pretty wedding dress.
Many of the laughs are rooted in our desire that the downstairs servants overthrow the upstairs royalty.
Most reviews are underplaying the political allegory and trivializing the story as an overblown in-law spat. That misses the point entirely.
An ultra-rich family “welcomes” a lady who is not one of them. Either the one percent keeps their foot on the throats of the workers or they will lose power, wealth and control.
All the symbolism boils down to that.
Australian actress Samara Weaving sizzles as Grace, a performance that would make Sigourney Weaver and Susan Sarandon proud. Andie McDowell, whom I’ve loved ever since “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” plays the mom-in-law maleficently.
But best of all is Canadian actress Nicky Guadagni as Auntie, a fiery elder whose eyes could burn a hole through steel. She lost her own husband during a previous game of hide and seek, so she’s carrying a grudge – and a weapon.
The production has the aura of a lavish Agatha Christie production, with a host of villains racing around a mansion carrying battle axes. Everyone in the mansion is guilty!
This will be categorized as a “high concept” horror film, but it’s actually a political fable. The heirs to the fortune struck a Faustian bargain with the founding patriarch, the devil whose picture is above the fireplace.
They get to live well, so long as they are willing, at any point, to sacrifice their souls. If the devil makes an offer that they decide to refuse, well, poof!
That’s not a particularly flattering portrait of the rich, but it’s the high-octane fuel that propels this tale of greed among the gentry whose tuxes are ultimately soiled by an uppity peasant in a fancy dress.