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SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Ready Or Not. If you have not yet seen the film, please proceed at your own risk!
As the utterly fantastic Ready Or Not gets closer and closer to its conclusion, the audience is still very much kept in the dark about the reality of the situation that motivates the plot of the movie. Is the deal that the Le Domas family made with Mr. Le Bail real, or has the clan been overly superstitious and killing people for generations without reason? By the end, of course, it’s very definitive when everybody starts exploding – which makes for one of the best finales of the year – but it may surprise you to learn that the film went through a whole lot of evolution before landing where it did.
This morning we had the absolute pleasure of exclusively revealing the home video dates for Ready Or Not – on digital starting November 26th, and on Blu-ray and DVD on December 3rd – and tied to that announcement I recently had the wonderful pleasure of hopping on the phone with the movie’s directors, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, and it was while deep diving into spoiler territory that I learned about how the end of the film came together.
In totality, Ready Or Not, written by Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy, actually changed a lot from its first draft to what we see in the final cut, and that very much includes the ending. Keeping in mind the ambiguity that exists throughout the movie, I asked them specially how it evolved over the stages of production, and it turns out that it was really a challenge to nail down the best way to conclude things. First discussing what was originally going to happen, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin explained,
The first version that we read actually ended with Grace getting killed, and it was a much darker ending, and it was something that we kind of knew we had to change cause I don't think it was the version that we wanted to tell. But once we all kind of collectively agreed like, 'Let's try to have our cake and eat it too and play out the version where Grace survives, it's not real, these fucking clowns completely fucked up, and then we kill them.'
Obviously that only proved to be the starting place for the workshopping, given what we wind up seeing in the finished version of Ready Or Not. All were in agreement that what existed didn’t quite work, and so the directors got to work with the writers figuring out the best way to wrap things up.
According to Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, the filmmakers went through a lot of different ways to try and make it work, but they didn’t quite click. Eventually they found it though:
Us and the writers went through probably 20 drafts that we shared, maybe a dozen with the producers, and they, rightfully so, shot down most of them, because they were way too long. We had like a Final [Destination] version where everybody went off and had their own sort of comeuppance kill, and then from those we sort of landed on 'What's the most effective, fun, quick version?' And Guy [Busick] and Ryan [Murphy] came up with the explosion.
While drawing things out too much had been an issue for reworked drafts of Ready Or Not, what the filmmakers ultimately discovered is that it was best to keep things simple: have the Mr. Le Bail deal be real, and have the Le Domas family pay the consequences for years and years of murder in trade for wealth and success. When the directors got this version of the script, they immediately recognized it as the winning idea that it was, and it became basically what we see in the finished cut. Said Bettinelli-Olpin,
It was one of these things, I'll never forget reading it the first time. Reading it on the page, it was like a half a page. It was so fast and absurd that I remember jumping on the phone with Tyler and [producer] Chad [Villella], and we had that kind of moment of like, 'Oh my God, this is so batshit that it's probably the best idea we've ever heard.' It was one of those ones where you know you're taking a gigantic risk, so you embrace it and you go for it. And then once we all got on board, it was a big discussion about how are we going to actually do that in an effective way. But the fun of it was let's let you have both endings in a way that feels satisfying. Because you just kind of want to see them explode!
The end of Ready Or Not is super cathartic, particularly because it lets serious tension give way to fun insanity… but there is an extra detail within this story that provides a nice extra twist. One of the best aspects of the scene is the way Samara Weaving’s Grace hysterically laughs while everyone is exploding, but that wasn’t actually a part of the aforementioned half page that Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy wrote. Rather, it was not only an on-set addition to the movie, but it was actually Weaving’s idea for Grace to have that reaction.
Matt Bettinelli-Olpin explained that initially Grace had a more dramatic interpretation of events, but after a couple of takes Samara Weaving offered up her suggestion:
That was Samara on the day. That was not in the script. That was not from us. Samara had done one or two takes. We had only had a few takes on everything cause it was such a quick shoot, and after two takes she was like, 'Can I just try one where I laugh? I just feel like I would find this funny.' And so we said, 'Yes please. That sounds wonderful, let's try it.' And I even remember when we were shooting it thinking like, 'Man, this is so bold. I hope this works!'
Matching the more serious versions of the scene, they shot a couple of takes of Samara Weaving uproariously laughing at the horrible demise of Le Domas family, and it was clear very quickly in the edit bay that it needed to be a part of the Ready Or Not experience, Said Matt Bettinelli-Olpin,
At the end of the day we got to the edit. We did one edit without it, and then we put in her first take of laughing, and essentially that's just what the movie is now. It's just that single take.
It’s a big part of the filmmaking process to adapt and change things as new ideas are presented, and this is really an excellent example. Ready Or Not’s ending is absolutely one of the best big screen moments of 2019 , and from my conversation with the directors, it’s clear that it was a big team effort.
With the movie now getting prepped for its big home video release, you’ll soon be able to relive the amazing time that is Ready Or Not – and also get to enjoy a slew of special features including a three-part behind-the-scenes featurette called Let the Games Begin: The Making of Ready Or Not, a gag reel, and a commentary track recorded by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Chad Villella and Samara Weaving. You can digitally pre-order it now by clicking here, but also be sure to keep checking here on CinemaBlend for more from my interview with the directors!