Warning: SPOILERS for Ready Or Not.
One of Ready Or Not‘s key marketing points turned out to be a lie – but it’s a deception that has an amusing payoff within the story itself. Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, Ready Or Not stars Samara Weaving as Grace, a bride marrying into the billionaire Le Domas family, but she’s forced to play a game of hide-and-seek where her new in-laws hunt her throughout their opulent mansion.
The high-concept thriller mixes elements of survival horror and black comedy. Grace starts off as the unwitting victim who is shocked when the Le Domas clan is seriously trying to kill her and she has to fight back in order to make it until dawn alive – as per the complex rules of hide-and-seek in Ready Or Not. Grace gradually transforms from a victim into the aggressor as she takes her life into her own hands and turns the tables on her in-laws. One of the selling points in Ready Or Not‘s marketing is the visual of Grace, still wearing her white wedding gown, grabbing a shotgun and strapping on a bandolier in order to go on the offensive. Grace and her shotgun and bandolier is front and center on Ready Or Not‘s poster and, in the film, this is played as one of Grace’s big hero moments and it’s a rousing crowd-pleaser.
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Ironically, the fact that Grace had a shotgun turned out to be part of the joke because she ultimately couldn’t use her weapon. Once Grace was suitably armed, the audience expected her to go on a bloody warpath but that turned out not to be the case, as Grace discovered in one of Ready Or Not‘s best scenes: Grace hiding in the kitchen from Stevens (John Ralston), the Le Domas’ loyal and sinister butler. The scene intriguingly echoed the famous ‘Raptors in the Kitchen’ sequence in Jurassic Park, with Grace clambering on the floor and hiding behind the corners of the kitchen’s island, hoping Stevens, who is taking a break from the hunt, doesn’t discover her. Finally, Grace pulls the shotgun, confronts Stevens and pulls the trigger – only to discover the shotgun shells in the bandolier were fake. Stevens even taunted Grace that the weapon she found in the Le Domas’ family room was “for display only”.
This moment was one of Ready Or Not‘s best examples of subverting the audience’s expectations and the film pulled off several more clever surprises and shocking moments, like how Grace escaped that situation with Stevens by scalding half of his face, earning his ire. Stevens later captured Grace after she escaped the mansion and boasted to the Le Domas family, only for Grace to turn the tables once more and cause a fatal car crash that took Stevens off the proverbial game board. However, the rest of the Le Domas family had weapons – including shotguns – that definitely did work.
The fact that Grace was advertised to be a shotgun-toting bride out for revenge in Ready Or Not‘s marketing was intended to tantalize audiences into seeing the movie and rooting for her, but the way hide-and-seek turned out in Ready Or Not was actually even more interesting. At one point, the patriarch, Tony Le Domas (Henry Czerny), blamed Grace for the disaster hide-and-seek turned into and accused her of picking them off one-by-one, but it was actually the Le Domas family’s own recklessness and incompetence that caused the highest body count. For her part, Grace spent the movie playing defense, which actually made her even more lovable than if she went on a murderous rampage.
Grace did score three major kills in the movie but none of them was with the shotgun, her signature weapon in the movie’s marketing. Ultimately, the point of Grace clad with a bandolier and hoisting a shotgun in Ready Or Not was to look cool and that mission was definitely accomplished, even if the filmmakers pulled a fast one by giving her a weapon she couldn’t use.
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