Welcome to Commentary Commentary, where we sit and listen to filmmakers talk about their work, then share the most interesting parts. In this edition, Rob Hunter marries into a legendary board game dynasty with Ready or Not.
One of 2019’s best films isn’t one you’re hearing about through awards season, but that doesn’t make Ready or Not any less brilliant. It’s as perfect a blend of comedy and genre thrills that we’ve seen in years, and Samara Weaving absolutely slays in the lead as a woman who marries into a highly entertaining nightmare. The movie is on Blu-ray and worth a blind buy for fans of fun, and among the special features is a commentary track well worth listening to.
So I did. Keep reading to see what I heard on the commentary track for…
Ready or Not (2019)
Commentators: Radio Silence (filmmakers), Samara Weaving (actor)
1. Chad Villella has had the Fox Searchlight fanfare as his cell phone ringtone for six years, but it’s a rendition done on a flute and annoys everyone else around him.
2. They submitted nearly two hundred fictional board game names, but only eight or so were cleared by the legal department.
3. Weaving was nervous filming her introductory scene here due as much to having to smoke a cigarette for the first time in years as to the nature of the shot. “It was gross,” she adds as it was an herbal one.
4. The house in Ontario they used for the Le Domas Estate is the same one used in Billy Madison (1995).
5. “Look I’m in a horror!” says Weaving doing a fantastic imitation of Andie MacDowell who was apparently thrilled to be making a genre film.
6. The bedroom is part of the Casa Loma preservation meaning not only were they not allowed to light any candles but they also couldn’t touch half of the furniture/decorations.
7. They all praise assistant director Joanna Moore, but for some reason she’s not credited on the film’s IMDB page. Her hand even cameos as Grace’s shaking hand after killing Becky (MacDowell).
8. They sourced all of the taxidermy animal heads from the same place including the bear holding the goat’s head in its mouth. It came that way.
9. There are some ADR’d lines of dialogue here that the filmmakers had the actors record and send via their cell phones during post-production.
10. They eventually went with The Gifted’s “The Hide and Seek Song” for the music that plays at the start of the hunt, but they temped the scene with “Here Comes the Boogeyman” as heard in Sinister 2 (2015).
11. MacDowell’s dog is named Ava Gardner.
12. Tonal balance is important here, and the filmmakers nail it. The first kill of the night — the maid who is accidentally shot by Emilie (Melanie Scrofano) — is allowed to play as funny and over the top as a direct contrast to Grace’s (Weaving) honest emotional reaction behind the bed. Most horror/comedies fail at this balance and default purely to big laughs, so kudos to the team on this count.
13. That’s a tattoo of a chili pepper on Weaving’s hand. “People keep thinking it’s a feather,” she says.
14. Don’t tell anyone, but Weaving and Mark O’Brien (who plays Alex) both wrote their initials on a brick in that tunnel they enter at 31:23. It’s a public space at the heritage site where they filmed in Toronto. They weren’t the first.
15. The film’s writers, Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy, cameo at 32:16 as the crossbow experts in the YouTube video.
16. They only had five candelabras, so they had to keep moving them around to populate rooms and hallways where needed.
17. The insert of the dumbwaiter gears at 48:36 is actually gears from London’s Big Ben clock tower.
18. The goat that jumps out and scares Grace into falling down the well was originally planned as a puppet, but when they shot the first take of the puppet they realized that was a bad idea. “Thankfully the goat wranglers were so down.”
19. The nail that goes through Grace’s hand is CG, and they were worried about selling it until they watched Weaving’s performance.
20. The script had Grace punching Georgie (Liam MacDonald) a second time after exiting the pit, but they decided against it. This was a rare misstep for the filmmakers.
21. The family portraits are all based on Henry Czerny (who plays Tony), and they’re currently sitting in storage in Toronto. I would like one to hang in my home, so someone please find the address and help me plan a heist.
22. They had to teach Weaving how to drive, or at least how to look like she’s driving. “You thought the OnStar button was the ignition button.”
23. The OnStar voice is “Academy Award winner Nat Faxon, he’s in the Searchlight family.”
24. Searchlight asked them not to go crazy with the fog, but “we got a little carried away because we love the fog.”
25. The beat at 1:11:23 where Daniel (Adam Brody) hits Grace with his rifle left them thinking he had actually struck her. “Really?” says Weaving, “Yes!”
26. The montage of the family preparing and donning their robes in the lead up to sacrificing Grace originally showed Daniel drinking more, but Brody wisely suggested a take where he goes the opposite direction and is clearly sobering up instead. That’s the one they went with, obviously.
27. The MPAA requested they translate the Latin used during the sacrificial ceremony so they could properly rate the film.
28. They recall having a group conversation with the cast regarding all the times they’ve died in movies and TV, and Elyse Levesque (plays Charity) appears to have the record among them. None of the cast had ever exploded before, though, so this was a first for them all.
29. The fight between Grace and Becky was filmed on the first day of shooting, and Weaving accidentally struck her with the prop brick. “We all thought she was going to walk away.”
30. “I’m like an animal,” says Weaving at the scene where Grace leaps off the table with the knife and lets loose the most raw and guttural scream. It’s incredible stuff.
31. They speculate as to what Grace does after the movie ends, and their guesses range from going on the honeymoon to being charged with murdering the entire family. My guess is she starts tracking down other families whose fortunes are built on the same deadly deals and then ends their lineages too.
Best in Context-Free Commentary
“It’s totally that 1% guilt, of like, where did you get your money again?”
“There’s too much cocaine, maybe a little less cocaine!”
“She’s a mom. A terrible, terrible mom.”
“What a wuss.”
“This is the scene of them pretending they know what a black mass looks like.”
“Feel like continuity is only noticed when something’s wrong. People just take it for granted when it’s perfect.”
“It actually tasted quite nice.”
“We usually are drinking during these commentaries.”
Ready or Not is so fucking good. It’s the 2019 film I’ve watched the most times, and it is such a fantastic masterclass in story, tone, economy, performance, and more. The commentary track is full as they never take a break between them and instead deliver insight, anecdotes, and pure love for their collaborators. Watch the movie, listen to the commentary, and then watch the movie again.
Read more Commentary Commentary from the archives.