How do you feel when you finish a horror movie? If you’re anything like me, you often find yourself scared, sad, traumatized, or a combination of the three by the time the end credits roll. Many people would say that’s the point – you’re watching a movie to be scared, and those feelings don’t just evaporate once the movie ends. Just because a movie is scary doesn’t mean you have to leave the theater feeling sick and unnerved. With characters like Grace Le Domas, you can leave feeling triumphant, and — dare I say it — satisfied.
This was the feeling I carried with me on my way home from seeing 2019’s Ready or Not in theaters. I wasn’t jumping at shadows or pondering the horrors of humanity – I was excited, relieved, and honestly, kind of proud. All of that emotion is thanks to Grace, a horror movie character I could finally get behind. She is unlike any other horror movie protagonist I’ve ever encountered.
The Future Mrs. Le Domas
The premise of Ready or Not is that Grace (played by Samara Weaving) is getting married to Alex Le Domas (played by Mark O’Brien). In order to be considered part of the Le Domas family, Grace has to choose a random card and play the game she draws with the family.
Most of the games are harmless, but if you happen to draw a Hide and Seek card, then the family has until dawn to kill you in order to appease the demonic Mr. Le Bail, who is responsible for giving the Le Domas family their fortune. Since there needs to be a story, you can imagine which card Grace has the misfortune of picking. Grace Le Domas is sent out to hide as the family prepares for their ritual.
Hide ’N Seek
From the beginning of the movie, the audience is meant to resonate with Grace and her personality, but once the game starts we really begin to sympathize with her. When Mr. Le Domas tells her the only way to win is to stay hidden until dawn, Grace laughs and says
“No thank you!”
The audience knows the danger she’s in, but obviously she doesn’t. Yet, we can’t help but understand her and know we’d react the same. No one thinks that spending several hours hidden somewhere is fun, and especially not on the night of your wedding. Her easy humor here, when we know things are about to get scary for her ridiculously fast, makes us connect to her. While other horror movie characters are often jerks or frustratingly innocent. Grace has a familiar sarcasm that you can’t help but love.
Run, Grace, Run
Beyond her relatable humor, Grace also reacts in a way the audience can relate to. Often in movies, the main character either does something so undeniably wrong or so strangely unemotional that you can’t help but feel distanced from what they’re going through. But not Grace.
When Grace Le Domas finds out the family is trying to ritualistically murder her in order to protect themselves, she becomes hysterical. She cries, she gets angry — she is freaking out. I’ve never been chased by a family of psychotic weapon-wielding rich people, but I can’t imagine I’d act any differently. When you’re in a situation like that, you’ve got to be scared out of your mind.
Throughout the movie, we see and feel Grace’s fear. Though certainly horror movie protagonists are scared while they’re being chased by ax murderers or ghosts. The difference between them and Grace is her resounding strength during it all.
To me, no moment showed Grace’s resiliency quite like her moment in the pit. Considering the Le Domas’ penchant for killing people, it makes sense that they’d need somewhere to dispose of the bodies. While on the run, Grace encounters that disgusting, terrifying place first-hand. It was during her moments in the pit — and her subsequent climb out — that we really got that Grace was going to do whatever she could to survive. She’s shaking with exhaustion; covered in dirt, grime, and her own blood. Even with a hole in her hand, she finds the strength to pull herself out of that pit.
Without trying to get overly philosophical, she’s showing us that it is possible to find the strength to pull yourself out of horrific darkness. Grace gets hurt and is scared and messes up, but ultimately, she keeps pushing and keeps trying to survive. Her perseverance is uplifting as hell.
‘Till Death Do Us Part
With real human emotions and an inspirational will to live, it’s hard to ask more of such a great character. Yet, Grace also completely subverts our idea of the role love can play in a horror movie. Usually, romance in a scary movie is meant to motivate the protagonists. It gives them their reason to keep fighting and is often their reason to go back into the horrors they’ve barely escaped.
For Grace, her attachment to her new husband does not hold her back and it is not her only reason to go on either. Love is her motivation, just not love for her husband. It is Grace’s love for herself that ultimately gives her the strength to move on.
Doom From The Groom
First off, Grace immediately recognizes that it is Alex’s fault she’s in mortal peril to begin with. He asked her to marry him without once letting her know what danger she might face. Alex defended himself, saying that Grace would have left him if he didn’t propose — and here is where we see Alex’s true colors emerge. He was more concerned with losing Grace than with her safety.
This is the moment when we get a glimpse of his true nature, even though we don’t know the extent of his damage until much later when he catches Grace and tries to sacrifice her. He is selfish and would rather let Grace die than face not having her in his life.
Given this disturbing moment, it is no surprise that later on when she runs away, Grace is focused on saving herself and getting the heck out of there instead of staging a rescue attempt on her husband. Even if she isn’t completely done with him at this point, she has seemingly figured out that no one is going to put her first other than herself.
So, that’s exactly what she does. Grace chooses herself over a man who clearly doesn’t have her best interests at heart – and really, what better message of self-love do we need in 2019?
Here Comes The Bride
More than anything else about her, the thing that makes Grace the best horror protagonist I’ve encountered is that she truly deserves to live. Now, in general, victims in horror movies “deserve” to live. I would be hard-pressed to find someone who deserves to be hunted down and murdered in cold blood like so many characters are. What I mean is that nothing Grace did throughout the movie made me cry, “Don’t do that!”
Head In The Game
From the moment Grace understood what they wanted to do with her to the time the police arrived… she played it smart. Grace uses her intelligence to try and escape, and while it isn’t always successful, as an audience we can’t fault her attempts.
Grace Pulling The Trigger
Beyond that, she isn’t even morally questionable. The one horrible thing she does is when she bludgeons Mrs. Le Domas to death with the game box, and given that Mrs. Le Domas was actively trying to kill her, it doesn’t make us question her worthiness to survive.
In fact, it made me root for her even more, because she avoided another horror movie trope. Grace didn’t stop hitting Mrs. Le Domas until she was without-a-doubt dead. There was none of that hitting a villain once and then running only for the villain to come back later crap. Grace had her own life in her hands, and she wasn’t about to ease up.
Love Me Tender
With her wit, strength, and ability to push back against horror movie tropes, Grace Le Domas is the ultimate horror movie protagonist. Watching her leaves you on the edge of your seat, and her triumph feels like your own by the end of the film. Grace is a complete badass. She’s here to go, whether you’re ready for her or not.