Director – Jeremy Saulnier
Cast – Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves, Kevin Kolack, Eve Plumb, David W. Thompson, Brent Werzner, Stacy Rock
Release Year – 2014
Reviewed by John of the Dead
– Back in February of 2014 I watched and reviewed this great film titled Blue Ruin. It wasn’t until I tried linking it in my recent review for Jeremy Saulnier’s 2016 film Green Room that I realized I never posted my review for Blue Ruin! :facepalm: So, here it is, two years later.
I’d heard a lot of great things about this flick for the last few months, but I was never in the mood to watch “this” type of experience. It seemed like a cool vengeance tale, but a slower burn than the like of I Saw the Devil, and I was right about that. Also, my friends were right about this being a damn good movie. With the horror stemming from the violence and decisions made, this is by no means a scary film, but to me it makes for one of the best horror films of recent day.
When the estranged Dwight learns that the man who killed his parents has been released from prison, he returns to his childhood town to seek the vengeance he has long desired. Being an amateur at this, his assassination does not go as planned, pitting him in a brutal fight to protect what little family he has left.
Murder Party / Green Room filmmaker Jeremy Saulnier both writes and directs this film, and it proves to be his best work so far. His story focuses heavily on Dwight and the struggles he is forced to face on a daily basis. We are not given much insight on the life he lived before his parents were killed, but it is obvious that his current state of affairs is not a positive one. He lives out of his beat up car and is disheveled look indicates showers are not part of his daily regiment. Of course, his physical nature is symbolic of his psychological trauma. When he learns that his parents’ killer will be released we see both joy and fear bleed from within him, and at the 18:30 mark he makes his first major mistake with the blown assassination. The family members of Dwight’s target are on to him and will stop at nothing to get their own revenge, and that includes hurting the family member his has left – his sister. What happens after this becomes one of the most engaging second and third acts I have seen in a modern day horror film, especially for one this dramatic. Typically, dramatic horror films are boring to me. This is even the case if the film is a good one, like Only Lovers Left Alive. But, because of great film making and a solid story I was left glued to the screen.
Not only is Dwight’s personal plight an engaging one, but there are plenty of kills for the viewer to enjoy. I was honestly surprised at how many kill sequences the film had, and while there are definitely long periods of time between them they were highly effective and should be worth the wait. I mentioned earlier that this is not a typical horror film, like one that tries to scare you, but a “horror” film as a result of the horrific actions that take place. The violence grows more Tarantino-esque as the end result nears, and I applaud Jeremy Saulnier for his incredible execution during these scenes. He managed to keep the tension high and did so for surprisingly long periods of time, as if he wanted to hold the viewer captive. Equally impressive is Macon Blair’s performance as Dwight. I believe this performance is one of the best of 2014 and rival’s Gene Jones’ performance as Father in The Sacrament – albeit both roles were different. Watching Dwight go from a pessimistic outsider to a pessimistic killer was an astonishing transformation for the character and Blair handled each emotional extreme to perfection.
Overall, Blue Ruin is a dramatic horror film that must be seen to be appreciated. It may be slow at times, but the payoff is ever-present and it delivers the good in satisfying fashion. Highly recommended.