Believe it or not, the best movie of the summer doesn't feature CGI lions, CGI toys, Spider-Man, or the Disney corporation in any way (almost). The best movie of the summer is Ready or Not, a film about a brutal game of hide-and-seek featuring grisly deaths, gallons of blood, and a YouTube video teaching you how to properly use your first crossbow. It's a hematic delight and it deserves to spawn many, many sequels.
Horror movies of late haven't been designed to have franchise potential. The horror flicks that get attention each year are usually fantastic, but they tend to be of the one-off, art-house variety: The Babadook, It Follows, Hereditary, The VVitch — all well-made films, but all pretty specifically designed to stand on their own. Basically, if you want a new horror franchise, your current options are the works of James Wan or The Purge. Both of those have plenty to recommend them, but they tend to live on the more serious spectrum of horror.
Ready or Not, however, feels like a classic horror franchise. It's over-the-top, it's designed to have wild death scenes, classic heroes and villains, and, above all, a sense of humor about itself.
Here are all the gory details that prove there ought to be Ready or Not sequels for years to come.
**Spoilers for Ready or Not.**
SAMARA WEAVING DESERVES TO BE A HORROR ICON
Every horror franchise needs a hero people immediately know they would follow into the bowels of hell. Laurie Strode. Nancy Thompson. Sarah Connor. Sidney Prescott. For whatever flaws horror as a genre may have, it has an established pedigree of powerful women we want to root for.
And Samara Weaving has proven in the past few years that she can stand with the Jamie Lees, the Heather Langenkamps, the Linda Hamiltons, and the Neve Campbells of the world. In Ready or Not, Weaving plays Grace, a bride who becomes the de facto lamb in a satanic sacrifice. As an actor, though, she has already left a trail of bodies proving she is destined for greatness. Whether it's established franchises (Ash vs. Evil Dead), indie darlings (Mayhem), or straight-up horror trash (The Babysitter), Weaving has proved repeatedly she has all the makings of a horror icon even before Ready or Not hit theaters.
Both Grace as a character and Weaving as a performer were born to be horror franchise heroes. Grace is a foster kid who maintained her optimism despite being in the system, yet still has that steely-eyed survival instinct to be able to take on an entire family of wealthy elites desperate to eviscerate her. And Weaving has the chops to walk that line between sweetheart and kill-or-be-killed final girl. Born at a different time, Weaving would've played Ripley or Buffy. She's a horror icon deep down in her very DNA.
By the end of the movie, Grace may have survived, but that doesn't mean there's not a lot more of her story to tell. After all, how will she explain to the police that an entire dominion of rich legacies literally exploded without her looking very guilty in her now-blood-black wedding gown? And what about all the other families who also made a deal with the devil? Can Grace take them on, too? Even more interesting, potentially: Who are Grace's parents? What's her lineage, and is it in some way tied to our villain in a way she's not yet aware of?
And speaking of villains...
THE VILLAIN IS LITERALLY SATAN
Horror loves a bad guy. Freddy. Jason. Michael Myers. Jigsaw. But, again, we haven't had any hugely iconic new monsters lately that feel right for long-term franchises. Annabelle and Valak from The Conjuring-verse are pretty good. Art the Clown from the Terrifier is fantastic, but still relatively niche.
Ready or Not, on the other hand, has a pretty tried and true monster as its core bad guy: the actual f***ing devil. We don't see much of this incarnation of Satan whom the Le Domas family sold their collective souls to, but Mr. Le Bail has got loads of potential. Not only is Le Bail Beelzebub, not only is he still somewhat mysterious, but he's also got a noose around the necks of multiple wealthy families, so we know we ain't seen the last of him.
Ready or Not may feature the Le Domas family, a bunch of incapable, drug-addled, out-of-touch buffoons, but that doesn't mean every family will be so soft. These people are just board game heirs and heiresses. What about the rich people who control entire countries? What about the ones who shoot their friends in the face and get away with it? Yes, it was fun having a Most Dangerous Game homage with the idiot rich, but a Ready or Not franchise gives us the possibility for much more dangerous families in the future.
And on the topic of those rich families...
READY OR NOT IS A RESPONSE TO THE WAKING NIGHTMARE THAT IS 2019
Horror is often about people trying to regain power from a powerless situation. Final Girls are what they are because they've seen all of their friends killed off, one by one, before they finally find the strength to fight back.
For all the ways in which that struggle is timeless, there is a reason why something like, say, The Purge is such a successful franchise now. Sure, the creepy masks are fun, but the big selling point for The Purge is that it's about poor people rising up against a rich elite who have used their power to create a government-sanctioned day where doing murders for fun and profit is completely legal.
Ready or Not exists in a similar space. Grace comes from nothing. She's an orphan raised up in the system. Alex, her new spouse, and the rest of the Le Domas family have been wealthy beyond the wildest dreams of avarice for generations. And the source of that wealth is literally murder. It's pointedly chosen (both within the actual plot of Ready or Not and within its meta-narrative) that Grace, a representation of the poor, is to become the sacrificial lamb for an undeserving rich.
Ready or Not is a story about the poor rising up to defeat a maliciously evil upper class. It is, to its very core, 21st century wish fulfillment. Watching Grace laugh maniacally as each and every one of her in-laws literally explodes into a bloody mist isn't just grimly hilarious, it's deeply cathartic.
THE DEATH SCENES ARE GREAT AND CAN ONLY GET GREATER
There's a very tricky line to be walked in the 2010s when it comes to death scenes, not just in horror movies, but in any movie. Our post-9/11 world full of near-daily shootings and massacres is constantly struggling to find honest but thoughtful ways to present death, especially violent death.
Also, there's this thing happening now where movie studios want to make more money and they're so afraid an R-rated film won't put butts in seats that they chicken out and make PG-13 fare instead, thus limiting how gruesome deaths can be.
So there are reasons both ethical and less so for a lack of exploding viscera and oozing entrails. Which is what makes Ready or Not so great: It doesn't give a f**k about any of that!
In Ready or Not, people are, count 'em: shot in the head with guns, shot in the mouth with arrows, crushed to death by dumbwaiters, burned, choked, stabbed, poisoned, drenched in gore and, finally, exploded by Satan himself. It is, in short, fan-f***ing-tastic. Fun for the whole family. There were multiple small children in the theater when I saw Ready or Not and I can attest that they left smiling and laughing, but, also, yes, are technically destined for a lot of therapy, I guess, if you want to pick nits about it.
Horror movies don't always go for it in their first outings. The first Final Destination does a competent job with its death scenes, but it's not until the subsequent sequels that we truly see how elaborate the Rube Goldberg machine of death can really be.
Ready or Not's deaths are good; very good, even. But if there's one thing there's serious growth potential for with a Ready or Not franchise, it's the death scenes. Most of the deaths in the movie happen relatively quickly, albeit very painfully. The deaths are gruesome, but if you're gonna go for it, go for it. And I believe the team on Ready or Not are ready, willing and able to go for it.
I want the most cartoonishly horrific deaths ever committed to film. I want Art the Clown cutting people from neck to genitals kind of gruesome. I want Freddy Krueger turning someone into a roach levels of preposterous. I want gore that would make Leatherface tap out. Cover Samara Weaving in all of the above. I bet she'll love it as much as we would. And that can only happen if Ready or Not gets more movies.
So to sum up: Ready or Not is great. Please go see it so we can have more Samara Weaving smoking, rich people exploding, and all the other brutally awesome punk rock sh** we need.