This post contains spoilers for Ready or Not.
At first glance, Samara Weaving’s character in Ready or Not looks like your run-of-the-mill horror movie “Final Girl.” White girl clad in a white dress who symbolizes some unattainable version of moral purity. Hell, her name’s even Grace.
Then the film consistently goes out of its way to combat the trope for the rest of its runtime.
In her first scene, we see Grace light up a cigarette (reminder: them Final Girls aren’t usually allowed to smoke or drink, lest their purity be tarnished). While she’s lighting up, she begins to give herself a pep talk in the mirror, shifting from sweet nothings about her would-be husband to amused profanities (cussing: also often a no-no) about his profoundly messed up family. The two go on to talk about their eighteen-month bang fest when he overhears her monologue. From the jump, the film almost laughs in the face of the idea of this blushing bride being anyone’s version of unattainable moral purity.
Then we dive into the criminally bland Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien), who we find out basically views his bride-to-be as just that. Grace is the solution to his morally bankrupt family. The very same family that he’s been mostly shielded from by his older brother Daniel (Adam Brody).
Alex and Daniel’s contrast is one of several solid conversations Ready or Not has with the audience. Alex is the bland, shielded brother who finds himself protected from much of his family’s darkness but still chooses to take that privilege and flee with it. Then there’s Daniel. Though previously complicit to his family’s ways, he at least has the decency to find himself tortured by it. He hides himself away in bitterness and snark, choosing the worst wife he could with the knowledge of what he was bringing her into. Alex introducing the not-morally-pure-but-still-a-good-person Grace into the family challenges Daniel’s complacence in a way that ultimately leads to his death.
There’s a moment when his actions seem like they’ll further the Final Girl trope, keeping Grace alive through his ultimate sacrifice. Instead, Daniel’s final act ends up going terribly for both of them. The infinitely more interesting brother takes a bullet to the neck, and Grace is only free for a few minutes before her two-timing, white bread, unbearably predictable, soft boy husband captures her again for the sacrifice.
The cause of Alex’s change of heart? While it’s up to interpretation, all of my money is on the fact that he realizes his perceived purity in Grace was all a fantasy. Sure, she’s a better person than any member of the le Domas family by miles. But that was never what Alex treasured in her.
Men like Alex le Domas want their ladies rough and tumble and a dynamite in the sack, but they ultimately need their women to need them. Alex’s problem wasn’t that Grace killed his mother (or, in his mind, his beloved brother). Instead, it’s with the idea that his previously vulnerable and terrified bride didn’t need him to survive. His dark past, no matter how much he fought it, was his one asset in protecting Grace. One that wasn’t even a little needed in the end. Little Alex, afraid and alone, remained the weakest member of the le Domas family.
Alex then does what many men of his kind do in these kinds of situations: he lashes out. He decides if Grace doesn’t need his protection, or his “love”, then she can die as the family he claimed to loathe had originally planned. Thankfully, he’s neither good at being a decent human being, or killing people. Mediocrity – it catches up with ya!
We close out with our girl in white (now red) chilling out on the steps of the mansion, smoking a stolen cigarette, with her guttural screams replaced with stunned laughter. Grace becomes the final girl by literal definition alone. In the end, Ready or Not manages to pay homage to the survivors of yore will still giving a middle finger to the negative aspects of the trope. Samara Weaving has an exceptional future in the genre. Here’s hoping she continues this trend while killing it with the best scream in the biz.
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