Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Starring: Macon Blair, Amy Hargreaves, Devin Ratray, Kevin Kolack, Eve Plumb
Written by: Jeremy Saulnier
Running Time: 90 mins
Release date: 2nd May 2014
Blue Ruin should be subtitled Blood Bath In Small Town America because this low budget independent thriller may not have the big names or big studio behind it but it will make a big noise, mainly for its unbelievable gory content, which even shocked me in places.
Dwight is a loner, living in a rusty old car and feeding off the discarded food left in bins. He is called in by the police to inform him that the man who murdered his mother and father is being released from prison. Enraged with hatred, he decides to seek his revenge and plots to murder the killer. Having no experience in being an assassin, he makes some unmitigated errors that lead the original eye-for-an-eye killing into a gang war between the family of the killer and Dwight’s own family, his sister Sam and her children while Dwight being the only protector.
Reminiscent of the 1970’s small scale Americana films, writer, director and cinematographer Jeremy Saulnier has taken a well worn story line, that of a man seeking revenge, and given it some neat little twists and turns. For most of the trim running time (90 mins, thank goodness!) there is little dialogue, hardly any in-depth explanation and he allows the story to unfold before our very eyes, as we watch the inept Dwight trying to cover his tracks but making a mess of things along the way.
It does have moments a wry black humour but most of the film is played for straight, a dark and grisly journey as this ordinary and fairly gentle man, brimming with grief and filled with vengeance, goes after his prey without a clue of the consequences. More a flawed anti-hero, Dwight is beyond the Everyman status, more an invisible man.
Yet as we watch him making error after error and him willing to risk his own life to protect his family, you do find yourself on his side and this the clever thing about Saulnier’s bare-bone script. When we do meet the clan of the original killer, they come across as vile, murderous animals so you feel no sympathy for them.
What will get most people’s attention for this movie is the high level of violence and gore involved. It gets nasty in places. So much so, that members of the audience I saw the film with, were whincing in their seats. One particularly graphic scene involves Dwight trying to remove an arrow from his leg. If you are screamish, best stay away.
There is only one performance of real note and that is of Dwight, played with surprising care and attention by unknown Macon Blair,who has worked with Saulnier before on a previous venture, the rarely seen Murder Party. He makes Dwight 100% human. This is not Charles Bronson from Death Wish, but a man who doesn’t know how to deal with his emotions of hate and so does what he thinks is right. This could be a career making performance for Blair and rightly so.
This is a film full of raw energy and possibilities. It isn’t always perfect and the level of shocking violence might put it off from being a massive hit but it does have cult written all over it and it is very reminiscent to the Coen Brothers first film, Blood Simple. Not the most original idea in the world but one that does grab your attenuation and as every layer is revealed, so the tension rises. A solid piece of cinema that is well worth checking out, if you have the stomach for it.