‘Ready or Not’ Directors Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin on Creating an ‘Uplifting’ Film After Trump’s Election

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin Tyler Gillett

The forthcoming dark comedy “Ready or Not” is purposely unrealistic and chalk full of over-the-top gore after newlywed Grace (Samara Weaving) visits her wealthy in-laws at their luxurious estate, only to find out that a long-running family tradition might end in her death. But after coincidentally pitching the film the day after Trump’s election in 2016, directing duo Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett said they were more inspired than ever to create an amusing movie that also featured subtle political undertones. 

“That really lit a fire under the project in a new way,” Gillett told Variety at the movie’s premiere at ArcLight Culver City on Monday night, recounting the effect Trump’s election had on their pitch and the film’s direction. “The mood was dire, and everyone wanted something a little more uplifting and to make a statement with a movie. And we did that. It was always thematically valuable to us, but now there was a reflection of something specific happening culturally that was important to have a conversation about.”

However, the film isn’t overtly political like other dark comedies, such as Jordan Peele’s racially-themed “Get Out” or Universal’s recently-cancelled “The Hunt.” It’s instead a campy comedic thriller that only contains political messaging for viewers if they go looking for it. 

“We used [today’s politics] as a guiding principle throughout the shoot but we ultimately always want viewers to enjoy the experience and have a great time,” Bettinelli-Olpin said. “And then when they get home they’re like, ‘Oh wait a minute, maybe there was something else going on there.’ And if they think about it a little more, that’s great. And if not, that’s great too.”

Gillett added, “What we’re hoping to say is that privilege and entitlement are really dangerous things and the movie in so many ways is a conversation about that.”

Ultimately, the film lightly touches on wealth disparity as the rich and eccentric Le Domas family forces incoming in-laws to take part in a ritualistic game as a way to weed out newcomers into their tight-knit “clan,” like former foster kid Grace. To decide the evening’s game, Grace chooses a card at random and she finds herself in a deadly version of Hide and Seek, which ends with a hilariously incompetent group of 1%-ers hunting down their new in-law. (If she had been more lucky, they would’ve simply played a benign round of Go Fish). 

The film’s stars, including Adam Brody and Kristian Bruun (who play Grace’s new brother-in-laws Daniel and Fitch) think its political undertones are important to consider when watching the film. “It really takes a jab at the 1% and the class warfare that’s going on this country,” Bruun said. “It pulls it apart because you have someone that’s an outsider come in and all this family wants to do is maintain their status and the status quo and their community and way of life. I hope people walk away questioning how things are and why things are.” 

Weaving, whose Grace gets humorously tortured throughout the film’s entirety, is also looking at the big picture. “It’s fun just seeing the 1% just bring it down a notch, isn’t it?” she asked. “It’s sort of therapeutic in a way.”