Directed by Jeremy Saulnier
Starring Macon Blair, Amy Hargreaves, Brent Werzner, Eve Plumb
The revenge thriller is one of the most exciting, but possibly overdone, genres in the film world. There's something satisfying about seeing the good guy get the bad guy back, even though it's engrained in us to not necessarily want for revenge. What makes the genre even better is when you come across a movie like Blue Ruin and see it play out in the most intense way.
Macon Blair stars as Dwight, a down-on-his-luck slob of a man who returns to his childhood home to take vengeance on the one who killed his parents. The only problem is that Dwight is as amateur as it comes when trying to play the part of killer assassin. After his parents' killer is released from prison, Dwight takes it upon himself to kill him during his "Welcome Home" party at the local bar. This ignites a firestorm of back-and-forth violence from both parties as revenge become two-sided. Blue Ruin is full of intrigue, violence, and surprises at every turn.
Director Jeremy Saulnier has created a beautiful landscape for the scope of the story. Its horror and edge-of-your-seat thrills are masked by quality cinematography and incredible performances. Blair, especially, gives a star-making role as the deft Dwight. It's a role fit for a Paul Giamatti-esque actor and Blair fits the bill. As Dwight's sister, Amy Hargreaves is the solid, grounded half and she steals her minimal scene presence. Popping up in the second act, Eve Plumb (yes, of "Brady Bunch" fame) plays the elusive and frighteningly calm Kris Cleland, whose own motives and actions bring us to our finale.
Sometimes violence in films can seem gratuitous and unnecessary, but director Saulnier uses the violence as a breaking point into reality. Every moment of suspense is so perfectly orchestrated that you want to look away, but you also don't want to miss a single moment.
While the story and quality of the film is full of surprises, how the movie made it to screen is a testament to the direction filmmaking is taking. Saulnier went to Kickstarter to raise funds for the film and was successful in gathering enough funds for the production and post-production on the project. From there he was able to secure a position during the Director's Fortnight section of the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the FIPRESCI Prize. Since then, Blue Ruin has played the festival circuit successfully before being released in theaters and online this month.
Storytelling is, obviously, the key to a great film and Saulnier has immediately put himself in the league of incredibly talented auteurs able to take a seemingly one-sided genre film and create a masterpiece. You won't see anything else like Blue Ruin this year, especially on the indie level. If you're looking for something to fill the entertainment void of films like Prisoners, this is the one for you.
Runtime: 90 minutes