Review: Blue Ruin, it thrills and kills

Jeremy Saulnier makes his long awaited return to the director’s chair with his thriller Blue Ruin, a straightforward classic tale of a revenge that takes a simple concept and turns it into pulse-pounding suspense. Sometimes keeping a story simple can go a very long way, and Saulnier’s thriller does just that. The film follows a homeless man whose quiet life is turned upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance, leading to a brutal battle to protect his estranged family.

Blue Ruin is a prime example of less can be a whole hell of a lot more. And more often than not a script can drag down a film with too much meat and not enough bones. That’s not the case here as Saulnier’s thriller gets from point A to point B effortlessly, without dragging its story into meaningless territory. We’re never forced to learn anything about the characters that doesn’t drive the narrative forward, and it sure as hell never slows down. It’s exactly what a thriller is supposed to be—thrilling.

Dwight, as played by Macon Blair, is a very honest and real type of character that you instantly feel for from the start of the film. We see him meandering through life with not much else other than the dirty clothes on his back. Digging through the trash for food, living in his car and breaking into homes just to take a bath is the life Dwight lives. All that, however, gets turned on its head when the man who killed his parents gets released from prison, setting in motion a blood-soaked fight for revenge.

And it’s really as simple as that. Dwight, fueled by rage, will stop at nothing to carry out the task of murdering the people behind the death of his family. There’s not a whole lot of dialog in the film, as Dwight isn’t much of a man of words. His face tells us all we need to know with so much pain behind those eyes. He’s such a convincing character who’s driven by understandable rage, and it’s portrayed brilliantly by Blair.

I can’t imagine many people are going to walk away from this one disappointed. It’s simple cinema at its core with a heart-stopping tale that spills plenty of the red stuff. Fantastic directing, great acting and a story that will have you engaged from the opening frame, Blue Ruin is a thriller that delivers its promise and then some. Even though it took seven years, it’s nice to see Saulnier back at the helm of a feature film and hopefully we’ll be seeing plenty more from him sooner rather than later.


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If you are ever attacked by a gorilla just sit back and relax while you enjoy the once in a life time feeling of your limbs being ripped off.

16 thoughts on “Review: Blue Ruin, it thrills and kills

  1. This is another one I have on my queue to watch. I didn’t read past the first paragraph b/c I like going in to these cold, as those offer the most surprise. I will come back and read and drop a line after I watch.

  2. Yeah man great review. I totally agree with you on this one. Like your point about being simple cinema. I agree with that. It’s an American indie done really well.

  3. I just finished it, and I agree with you – it’s good to see a film stay on-track and characters that all feel authentic. Although the film does follow a 3-act script and follow a formula, it doesn’t FEEL like it, and that is what I look for in movies. When films feel formulated they become very predictable and I like films like this where you can’t tell what’s about to transpire and that the possibilities are endless. That creates intrigue and that’s what a thriller is supposed to do. I really couldn’t tell how it was going to end, and I actually didn’t even realize the movie was about to end when it did, but once the credits started rolling it made sense. I also like that it wasn’t overly complicated or over-the-top and that it managed to stay pretty plausible for the most part throughout. Good write-up! 🙂

    1. Ah, we finally liked the same thing! I figured you’d enjoy it because it’s just really well done and simple. Agree with everything you said!

      1. We agreed on a couple other titles after that string of disagreements last year. My thing is I like an intriguing story that’s not over-the-top or predictable and has developed characters backed by strong acting. You give me that and I will generally like it. I think most of the films you liked that I didn’t was b/c some of the plots felt generic to me or the plot was over-the-top or far-fetched. I really hope you will watch “The Hidden Face” and “Sleep Tight” soon and let me know what you think. I think they’re both captivating and intriguing films that know how to dial up the tension and suspense. “The Hidden Face” will make you gasp for air once the twist is revealed. Those are the moments I look for when watching a film and if one can’t draw me in and intrigue me I become bored and grow disinterested very quickly. The good thing about this blog is you post films that always have the potential to be good. Some turn out to be great and others turn out to be duds, but the potential is always there and it’s fun to learn about new films and give them a try.

  4. I loved this one as well. A couple of friends introduced me to Murder Party a couple of months ago and between that and Blue Ruin I think we’re looking at a major new talent.

    Great review.

    1. You have good friends! Murder Party is an absolute blast, glad you liked it. He’s definitely one to keep an eye on. I’m just glad he’s not taking another 7 year break in between films this time!

  5. Loved this film! Although a lot of blood was spilled, the film kept coming back to the significance of blood (in terms of both murder and family ties), so it never felt gratuitous. As you suggested, it was also surprisingly understated considering the material, which was a smart move.

    1. Glad you liked it! Definitely one of my favorite films of the year. It’s amazing what a simple story can accomplish when a director pays attention to the little details.

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