A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ready or Not is a comedy-horror movie with extremely graphic violence. Characters are dispatched in many ways (bludgeoned, shot, crushed) and die with spurting, pooling blood and gurgling in agony and terror -- all of which the movie plays for laughs. Many deaths are presented as comic or unimportant: Some characters die just after doing something that the movie views as bad, for example, and others who've had no lines are dispatched bloodily, after which survivors argue about who has to clean up the "mess." Small children participate in the violence; some are killed in over-the-top bloody scenes. Dead bodies are shown at length, including a long look at a severed head during a comic argument. Several characters smoke prominently, including a scene in which the main character smokes calmly in front of an apocalyptic scene. Other characters drink and act sloppy and hostile, snort white powder, and take unnamed pills and seem manic and out of it. Sex is confined to a mention of a couple's "boneathon" and a scene in which they kiss fully clothed and one tells the other to "take off your pants" (he doesn't). Frequent language includes "f--k," "motherf----r," "bitch," "a--hole," and more. This movie obviously intends to make points about power and wealth, but the messages are muddled. Samara Weaving stars.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
The petals in Grace's (Samara Weaving) bridal bouquet aren't even wilted when her new husband, Alex Le Domas (Mark O'Brien), informs her that their wedding day isn't over yet, and READY OR NOT, there's a long night ahead of them. The Le Domas family gained their considerable fortune in the board-game industry, and it's family tradition for newly married couples to sit down with the whole family at midnight to play a game. It could be checkers or chess; one married-in relative even admits to having played Old Maid. But the card Grace chooses is different. And in the menacing game of hide and seek that she's forced to play, her new in-laws will hunt her until dawn, by which time either she -- or the entire Le Domas family -- will be dead.
Is it any good?
Coming off like a mash-up between The Purge and Clue, this stalk-and-slash thriller swings and misses at pointed social commentary, but it's bloody good fun anyway. There's a lot to love here, starting with Ready or Not's visual look: The camera stalks polished wood hallways and finds the creepy shadows and hollows in every face except Grace's. She's lit with a golden glow that's no doubt meant to point up how good she is -- how very, very good, particularly when compared with her evil new in-laws. The cast is the other five-star aspect of Ready or Not, from Weaving's easy charm and relatable bad-assery to Andie MacDowell's sweet-and-sour matriarch to, most particularly, Nicky Guadagni's breakout performance as Aunt Helene, who glowers like no glowerer has ever glowered on film.
Kristian Bruun (we'll save you the search -- you recognize him from Orphan Black and The Handmaid's Tale) is good, too, as Grace's bumbling new brother-in-law; two of the film's most inspired gags are his, as he casually plays with his phone during the family's long night. (Where else would one turn to other than YouTube to learn how to operate an antique crossbow?) But ultimately, the movie's messages about "the one percent" don't land. About the most biting barb it can muster is "F--king rich people!" And it's probably supposed to be funny that the house's domestic help, including a trio of identically dressed maids in five-inch heels, suffers along with the Le Domases. But having working people bite the dust along with the idle rich muddles the point, and it's disconcerting that the movie seems to save most of its goriest violence for female characters. In short, as a better-than-average thriller, Ready or Not deserves a look. But though it clearly longs for the same relevance, it's no Get Out. It's a snack, not a meal, so don't go in too hungry.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Ready or Not's intense violence. Is the violence necessary to express the movie's point of view? Could it have been less violent? More violent? Is the movie making points with who it kills and how? What's being said with the violence, if anything? Does exposure to violent media desensitize kids to violence?
Ready or Not is set within a wealthy family, on a fancy estate. What do you think the movie is trying to say about money and power? How are rich people depicted in the movie, compared to those without as much money? Which group do you think the filmmakers sympathize with?
Is Ready or Not scary? What elements make it a horror movie, and what elements are more like a comedy? Does the comedy detract from the horror, or vice versa? What other horror movies with elements of comedy can you name?
- In theaters: August 21, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: December 3, 2019
- Cast: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Henry Czerny
- Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
- Studio: Fox Searchlight
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence, bloody images, language throughout, and some drug use
- Last updated: July 26, 2020
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