Film Reviews

READY OR NOT, here the blood-sucking rich people come

The year is 2019 and the uprising against capitalist scum is being led by a bloodied bride in a ripped wedding dress in a pair of worn Chuck Taylors. Running at a cool 95 minutes, ‘Read or Not’, also known as ‘Fucking Rich People’ is a class satire that never shies away from caustic punch lines and perverse thrills. It’s all pulp and minimal depth but with enough relentlessness to keep us on edge for most of the film.

‘Read or Not’ is quite literally fun and games punctuated with ultra-violent beats. Our heroine, Grace (Samara Weaving) marries into a family, the Le Domases, that got rich over generations from manufacturing various board games and owning sports teams. Don’t worry, they don’t like owning people (not that we know of). They prefer to hunt. One of their ancestors supposedly made a pact with the devil that requires anyone marrying into the family to play a random game on the wedding night.

Grace weds the family’s youngest son Daniel (Adam Brody) and the ceremony itself is hostile enough; with leering aunts and snickering cousins wary of her being a potential gold digger. Things only get worse when Grace picks the worst possible game during game time – hide and seek. As a record player counts down to 100 in creepy fashion, a tipsy Grace, oblivious to her temporary opening of a door to hell, stumbles towards a hiding place as the family loads up with a harpoon, battle axe, a variety of guns and a crossbow. The hunt is on.

READY OR NOT
(L to R) Kristian Bruun, Melanie Scrofano, Andie MacDowell, Henry Czerny, Nicky Guadagni, Adam Brody, and Elyse Levesque in the film READY OR NOT. Photo by Eric Zachanowich. (Twentieth Century Fox )

They don’t want to kill her though – at least not during the hunt. The superstitious layer becomes more prominent than it needs to be as we learn the family actually wants to sacrifice Grace to fulfill its end of the pact. They are terrified of what could happen if Grace isn’t presented as an offering to whatever force is inspiring such demented devotion. However, no Le Domas generation has failed prior to this so there really isn’t any proof that hell’s fury will meet any potential failure.

Co-directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett aren’t shy with the handheld and certainly aren’t shy to make light of some of the violence on screen. The film, in parts, reminded me of how Paul Verhoveen manifests his corporate cynicism in ‘Robocop’ with the robot presentations that go horribly wrong for poor suits. In ‘Ready or Not’ one of the more funny and poignant gags has to do with various fates of the maids in the household. No, it does not end well for them but hey, “it’s just the help.”

I really don’t want to overthink this one. Our directors don’t want us to either. There is no aspiration to the chilling nuance of a film like ‘Us’ as far as class is concerned. Jet black humour dominates the tone though there moments that inspire real dread and test the nerves. There is a brutal episode of Chekhov’s nail, among other misfortunes that really put Grace through the grinder.

The film counts on us to find Weaving’s character as sympathetic but also a pallet for true grit. The aggressively warm hue of the cinematography gives a hellish quality to the mansion which has become Grace’s hell physically and emotionally. Lest we forget, her husband all but pushed her into this death game and there is some intrigue to see how the relationship will be resolved.

I go back to the running time of 95 minutes which makes ‘Ready or Not’ a film with easy rewatchable value. The cast is all in and I have to give a special mention to Nicky Guadagni, the family’s deranged bloodthirsty matriarch who brandishes the battle axe which feels half her size.

So the message is simple; we are going to have to fight to get out from under the corrupted privileged. I just hope the resistance is less gory but just us fun.