Updated: Mar 29
I’ve written it before and I’ll write it again, I know that I really enjoyed a film when I can’t stop thinking about it for days to come. I saw Ready or Not 4 days ago now and the more I let it marinade, the better my opinion of it becomes. Ready or Not took its viewers on an emotional roller coaster ride of tension and suspense by dancing on a fine line between positive and negative themes.
For starters, the way this film was written really fascinates me because it is heavy on horrific and suspenseful themes, but also has a bit of underling satirical tones as well. Writers Guy Busick and Ryan Christopher Murphy (not to be confused with American Horror Story’s Ryan Murphy) did a really great job creating tension to mesh horror and satire in this film.
The film was shot across multiple locations near Toronto Canada. The mansions chosen for the film totally captured the gothic tone that was being created. The Parkwood Estates, I gather was used for the exterior shots of the home while Castle Loma was used to film the interiors of the Le Domas Family mansion. Having a beautifully elegant wedding take place in a gothic castle is definitely identifiable as a contrasting theme.
Or how about the first time the audience meets Grace? We see details of her beautiful gown and we hear her begin to talk about her wedding day positively, but then we see her light a cigarette to her lips as she makes mention of her soon-to-be husband’s perhaps more than unusual family hitting on her. I have to say this introduction sets up her role as a power role. Especially through the use of low hero angles during her setup.
The biggest example of contrasting themes, of course, is that Hide and Seek is supposed to be a game for child’s play and this film contrasts that theme by making the adult version of this game a lot more sacrificial. Establishing the rules for the game also identified the contrast between the modern day setting and the requirement for using only historic weaponry and seeking methods. We even see the irony of the children getting involved in this devilish game of Hide and Seek. This all ends up being a recipe used for satire when the family is supposed to seem horrifying to Grace but at the same time can’t operate their ancient weapons without using their modern day technology.
Another aspect of this film I really enjoyed was the casting.
I really respect Samara Weaving’s performance as Grace because her character goes through so much. Having seen her performance in The Babysitter, I think that film really prepared her for this role. She has a soft looking exterior, but she does a really profound job acting this power, survival role. Her character speaks outwardly, has a couple bad-girl tendencies that make her seem badass and she proves to be a fighter which helps the audience empathize with her.
Some of the casting for the sisters were spot on too. I can’t pinpoint why I know Melanie Scrofano, but she did a fantastic job with her character and she really carries the weight of the satirical writing throughout. We find out that she is snorting coke during the entire game and she accidentally and quite clumsily kills the wrong person at least twice. She gets frustrated because she can’t seem to play the game right and even loses her killing privileges during the night. I even thought Elyse Levesque had a couple noticeable moments in her performance. Looking back, I am pleased to note the strong presence of female roles in this film.
As I left the theater, I felt a little unsure of what I had just experienced as a viewer, but I look back and really think it was my initial shock of what this girl had just gone though. I mean, I really connected to her as a viewer and I could nearly imagine enduring what she had gone through during the film because I felt like I was right there with her.
For example, there is a scene when Grace was in a goat barn and little Georgie appears in his robe. Grace tries to talk some sense into Georgie but instead of helping her, he shoots a hole in her hand. As a viewer you feel that tension and frustration as your own. You totally empathize with her and agree with her decision to punch a child right in the face. Samara Weaving did a great job during this scene because she makes her hands shake as she screams out in pain and I totally feel like your body would shake from the shock of seeing and feeling the pain of a gunshot wound.
Right after this she falls in the pit of animal remains and as a viewer you just feel so defeated for her character. She sees the skeletal remains of animals around her and even finds a human skeleton with arrows in its chest. Almost as if this is her motive to survive, she tries to escape by the ladder in the pit. And would it really be a horror film if there wasn’t suspense created by the ladder breaking as she tried to climb it? Of course not. She falls back into the pit and determined to get out, she climbs the remains of the ladder all the way to the top with her one good arm and she throws her injured hand to the top of the pit and drives a loose nail right through the gunshot wound in her hand. She screams out in pain and the audience tenses in their chairs. The audience is left with the anticipation of having to watch her pull the nail out of her hand as she gets out of the pit.
These are some of the devices used to create empathy in this film, but I would argue showing injury to the human body classifies as a technique for creating narrative suspense in general.
As even more days pass, I recall more and more small details of Ready or Not that I enjoy and I have made the executive decision to go to the dreaded theater again to experience the magic of this film. You can already imagine, this will be one I purchase to watch any extended cuts or behind the scenes I can get my hands on. If you saw Ready or Not, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.