Blue Ruin [2013] Movie Review

Blue Ruin [2013]

Blue Ruin [2013] 
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Writer: Jeremy Saulnier
Genre: Thriller
Starring: Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves
Running Time: 90 minutes

Blue Ruin is a revenge thriller that is anything but conventional, and the same goes for its central character, Dwight (Macon Blair).

When we first see Dwight, his appearance is unkempt; his hair is matted and his beard is so unruly that it’s actually quite impressive. He is living as a vagrant, sneaking into houses to take baths, searching dumpsters for half-eaten food, and spending his nights sleeping in an old beat-up Pontiac. The reason for his drifting lifestyle becomes clear when a policewoman knocks on his car window one morning, inviting him back to the station.

It is here where Dwight learns that the man who was convicted for murdering his parents in the mid-90s is being released from prison. The police officer, very sympathetic to Dwight’s plight, just wanted to let him know before he heard about it elsewhere.

Suddenly Dwight’s life now has purpose. He decides that he is finally going to get revenge for his parents, and he heads for Virginia to murder the man who ruined his life.

Blue Ruin [2013]

It’s clear right away that Dwight is not a professional assassin. He is awkward, bumbling, and absolutely clueless. He is no Anton Chigurh, that’s for sure. However, his flaws only help to make him a more empathetic character. We want him to succeed; we want him to get his revenge.

Without getting into specifics, Dwight’s arrival in Virginia sets off a bloody chain of events that throws the entirety of two families into an unexpected mess. It’s almost a modern day revival of the Hatfield-McCoy feud.

At times, the tension in the film is near unbearable. One particularly tense scene finds Dwight alone and terrified in a dark house, attempting to hide from gun-toting invaders. The film excels in building suspense like this, making sure the camera is always fixed on Dwight so we are just as anxious as he is.

Dwight is a tightly written character. He is a man of few words, and at one point he mentions that he just doesn’t have to talk much these days, presumably because he is always on his own as a meandering nobody. In fact, in the first ten minutes of the film, his only dialogue is asking a store owner if they sell stamps. Even as the film opens up more near the end, he remains mostly quiet. This minimalist approach works wonderfully, and it’s amazing just how much the film does with so little.

Blue Ruin [2013]

The film’s success relies heavily on the performance from the mostly unknown Macon Blair, and he makes the best of it. Given the sparse dialogue, he is forced to rely on his body language to tell the story. His big, bug eyes, in particular, excel in showing us exactly what’s racing through Dwight’s mind at any given moment. It’s a strong performance, one that will rightly raise some attention in his direction.

The supporting cast includes some familiar faces such as Devin Ratray (“Buzz McCallister” from Home Alone), Amy Hargreaves (Homeland) and Eve Plumb (Jan Brady).

Blue Ruin was filmed on a minuscule budget, part of which was funded by a $35,000 Kickstarter campaign, but it looks and plays like a film much bigger than it is. This is a revenge film done right.

8/10

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2 thoughts on “Blue Ruin [2013] Movie Review

  1. Bubbawheat says:

    I agree, I’ve seen it twice already and that’s saying something as I don’t often watch movies more than once. It’s a really great revenge story that pays homage to a lot of the typical revenge movie tropes while at the same time taking them in exactly the opposite direction than you would expect. Glad to see this movie get around as much as it has.

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      “It’s a really great revenge story that pays homage to a lot of the typical revenge movie tropes while at the same time taking them in exactly the opposite direction than you would expect.”

      YES. I love how after just fifteen minutes, the film went in a completely different direction than I expected. It’s so easy for revenge films to just fall back on the usual formula, so this was a nice surprise. Glad to hear you enjoyed it so much, too.

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