Ready Or Not Had A Dark Alternate Ending That Didn't Make The Movie

The year 2019 saw the release of three notable film entries in the "Eat the Rich" era of media. There was Rian Johnson'sĀ "Knives Out," a quirky murder-mystery that gave its working-class hero a happy ending while serving her late employer's entitled family their just desserts. Then there was Bong Joon-ho's "Parasite," a satirical thriller that forewent a feel-good conclusion in favor of makingĀ a damning statement about the harsh reality of global capitalism. Lastly, in-between those two ends of the spectrum, there was "Scream" (2022) duo Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett's "Ready or Not," a horror-comedy where things didn't work out hunky-dory for its lead. Still, at least she walked away in one piece, which is more than you can say for her evil, rich in-laws.

Quick recap: "Ready or Not" centers on Grace (Samara Weaving), a young bride who is hunted on the night of her wedding by her partner Alex's (Mark O'Brien) family, the Le Domases, after drawing a game card reading "Hide-and-Seek" from a puzzle box. The box, as it turns out, belonged to one Le Bail, the mysterious, sinister man whom the Le Domases' ancestor made a deal with to attain their fortune. As the legend tells, the living members of the Le Domas family have until sunrise to catch and kill Grace, or else Le Bail will make them pay with their own lives. Indeed, they wind up doing just that in the film's gleefully bloody climax ... but that wasn't always going to be the case.

How the final ending came together

In an interview with Cinema Blend in October 2019, Bettinelli-Olpin revealed that an early iteration of the "Read or Not" script by Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy (not that one) saw the Le Domas clan succeed in killing Grace and sustaining their literal blood curse. Yet, as the movie continued to develop, Bettinelli-Olpin said that he, Gillett, and their writers came to realize "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." He added:

"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 f**king clowns completely f**ked up, and then we kill them.'"

Based on his comments, it seems Bettinelli-Olpin and his team were relatively quick to think up the idea of having the Le Domases fail to murder Grace before sunrise, only for nothing to happen right away. The real challenge, by the sound of it, was coming up with the best way of showing the curse was, in fact, real after that without dragging the film's runtime out. "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," Bettinelli-Olpin explained.

As such, the "Ready or Not" creative team cycled through ways to satisfyingly kill off Grace's in-laws after all the horrible things they did to her (and those before her) in the name of retaining their wealth and power. Bettinelli-Olpin said there was one version akin to the "Final Destination" films, with each member of the Le Domas family meeting their demise via, one assumes, a grisly "accident" caused by some unseen spectral force (much like Death slays its victims in those movies). Right away, though, he said he and the others realized the script draft where the Le Domases spontaneously combust one-by-one was the option they had to go with:

"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 bats**t 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!"

A laughing matter

There was one last ingredient the "Ready or Not" filmmakers later added to the movie's ending during production: Having Grace laugh as those around her start exploding into bursts of blood. It was actually Weaving's idea to have her character react that way after playing things more dramatically for a couple of takes. As Bettinelli-Olpin recalled:

"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!'"

With the benefit of hindsight, it's no surprise that this element works as well as it does in the movie's final cut. As much as "Ready or Not" itself balances gruesome thrills with dark humor, Grace is too busy trying to stay alive to see the Le Domas' actions as anything but terrible and horrifying up until the film's climax. After all she's put through, it's a relief for both her and the audience when her would-be killers are forced to pay the ultimate price for their unquestionably horrible behavior, least of all right after they (briefly) think they're going to get off scot-free.

The biggest drawback to this approach is that "Ready or Not" forgoes putting a finer point on its social commentary in favor of a more cathartic payoff closer to the final scene in "Knives Out." But then again, not every "Eat the Rich" film needs to be "Parasite" and deal in hard truths. Sometimes, watching a pack of rotten, no-good "one-percenters" get what's coming to them is enough on its own.