Aussie actress and model Samara Weaving has become our new feminist shero with her role as protagonist Grace in the summer slasher Ready or Not. This recent theatrical release has viewers and critics alike facing something women have feared for years… the patriarchy. The film begins as the end of any fairytale, with a beautiful wedding held at the groom’s gothic family manor where we meet Grace and her handsome prince, Alex Le Domas, heir to the Le Domas gaming empire. Soon after the “I dos” Grace must be inducted into the family through their long-standing tradition; a family game at midnight that may deal her a lethal ending rather than a happy one.
Vulture writer, Angelica Jade Bastién reviews Ready or Not as “more interested in laying bare the crumbling institution of marriage and the vapid morals of the one percent.” What I found compelling about Bastién’s analysis of the film is their imagery of the horrors of marriage. Bastién points to the violent depictions of married women in reality and film as a fear catalyst of said union. Bastién cites “the stories I’ve heard from aunts, friends, strangers in group therapy, and my own mother. Pop culture has done little to dissuade me of my belief.” This strikes me because it forces me to face my own reservations of nuptials, family, and wealth. All of these fears intersect at the corner of patriarchy and authority. Let’s take a stroll down patriarchy lane because it’s a word thrown around as marketing buzzword. You’ve probably seen plenty of signs, mugs, and totes with phrases that use the word. Feminists are using patriarchy to describe a structure that is awarding a majority of power within society to men. Understanding this will help us understand the themes in Ready or Not. In the film, marriage is used as an evolving symbol that clashes with outdated and traditional ideas of marriage and family. The origin of the Le Domas family fortune begins with Alex’s great-grandfather Victor Le Domas who made a deal with an affluent Justin Le Bail who offered him a chance of success and fortune for generations. The catch? Anytime someone in the Le Domas family marries they must initiate the new member with a game selected by Le Bail’s mysterious box. Grace draws hide and seek which according to tradition means death for her or the rest of the family by dawn. This tale of familiar lore illustrates the damage for women that comes from holding on to traditional ideals. The film uses marriage itself as a symbol of oppression in which Grace must literally sell her soul to be a part of such an established family.
Grace’s background growing up in the foster system is juxtaposed with the Le Domas family’s wealth and status provides a direct criticism of capitalism. Her character is a representation of economic inequality as she’s weathered years in the foster system after losing her family which sets her up for financial hardship while the Le Domas family has been compromising humane morals for generations to keep their wealth. This is no doubt commenting on the economic structure of capitalism that mandates a group or resource must be oppressed for another group or resource to prosper. Ready or Not displays a Satan-worshiping plotline to personify the effects of demoralized money-making and Grace is the badass bride who is saying “Not Today Satan” to propitiating wealth disparity. Ready or Not is your premiere summer slasher with plenty of substance to go around.
top photo: still from Ready or Not
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Abygai Peña is a NYC based feminist filmmaker and critic. She studied Film and Philosophy at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and notably misses the fresh air after moving to New York City.
You can find her work as a contributing editor at independent film magazine Cinema Skyline or as a freelancing pop culture critic where she covers underreported commercial, indie, art house films. She is also a general contributor for BUST Magazine. She examines pop culture through an intersectional feminist lens. You can follow her on Instagram @ledivinechild or stay updated on her work on her blog.