Blue Ruin: Revenge Murder Spree For Dummies

Now, for me, most social media tools are basically vanity projects to manufacture a fictionalized image of yourself: Instagram, Vine, Twitter etc. (Granted I am a hypocrite because I have Facebook.) And as a consequence I have never really understood their use as a marketing platform whether directly or through Kickstater. Up until now this was my entire experience of Kickstarter:

NB/ This is exceptionally unsafe for work, as you’d expect from South Park and Cartman. You have been warned!

However, last night this all changed… I watched the film, ”Blue Ruin”; whose production was funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign. This little known thriller, directed by Jeremy Saulnier and starring Macon Blair, is brilliant and currently on Netflix (UK anyway). You should watch most definitely watch this. SO here is the trailer:

The film opens on a seemingly tranquil, domestic life of Dwight (Blair) in the bath, only to be startled by a noise outside. Your assumptions are immediately turned upside down as Dwight escapes out of the bathroom window as a family returns home from holiday. Dwight was the outsider there. Dwight is an outsider everywhere. You then cut through different aspects of his day-to-day life. Collecting plastic rubbish of the beach to exchange for coupons. Bathing in the sea. His entire life, home and place to sleep within a rusted blue pontiac, our eponymous blue ruin. All poignantly framed and without a single word of dialogue.

But the highlight of this montage, in what is one of the most beautiful shots I have seen in recent years, is Dwight alone, at night, outside the illuminated, happiness of Funland. Riffling through the bins for food amongst the screams of joy. It is a devastating but beautiful moment.

The following morning, Dwight is woken by a Policewoman and escorted to a station. Reassured that he is not in trouble but that he should be with someone and somewhere safe when he hears the news. The news that a man is being released from prison. The look on Dwight’s face tells us everything we need to know; that this man is responsible for a tragedy in Dwight’s past.

From here Dwight goes on an increasingly unhinged quest for revenge, to close this terrible chapter of his life. This journey is incredibly tense. Each scene builds upon the previous to a finale where your nerves are so tautly wrung that it is almost unbearable. This is really a master class in story telling, something any film-maker (whether independent or blockbuster) could learn from. The film was made on a small budget and is only 90 minutes long, meaning every single scene and word had to count. And it did, absolutely nothing was wasted.

There is violence, there was no way around it, but more important is the constant feeling that the story could explode into violence at any second. Nothing is safe. Nothing is peaceful. What’s more is that the eruptions of violence are realistic. The wounds looks agonizing, you can feel them in your flesh. And they have consequences, people don’t just get up and run off after being shot or just shake an arrow wound off. This realism is biting and brutal.

Usual on-screen murderers are hit-men, mercenaries or soldiers, all trained in the art of bloodshed. Or they are an ordinary person who is inexplicably good at it because it serves the story. Both of these take away from the experience, as it brings the story out of the realms of possibility or relate-ablity for your average Joe. Dwight has no training just his basic common sense. He makes decisions we all could make. There are no elaborate plans just flawed attempts at doing what he thinks is right. His mistakes and normality really bring you into the film. What would you do in this situation? How would you handle it? This is perfectly demonstrated by two key points in the film.

  1. Dwight misses a ”fish in a barrel” shot from 2 yards because he is nervous, terrified and shaking. Not the incredible, long-range, head-shot action we usually see.
  2. This quote from Dwight’s friend, Ben, ”I know this is personal and that’s how you’ll fail. No speeches. You point the gun, you shoot.” How many times have we seen the ”Good/Bad guy monologue” on film just to be thwarted at the last minute. It is infuriating but this is how it happens in films, therefore it is not surprising Dwight, like all of us, would need warning to avoid doing this.

Watching how this journey effects Dwight is captivating. Its initial toxicity and nausea, through to a grudging and numb familiarity and the eventual resigning to its depths. These are human responses to such extreme terror and loss of innocence.The performance by Macon Blair is gut-punchingly strong, he makes you feel all of these lows and his desperation for it to end. It is near perfect.

Murder is a messy business. Maybe he should have taken a leaf out of Patrick Bateman’s book and worn a murder anorak.

The action pieces are cleverly set-up and executed. The plot is excellent, realistic and very carefully thought out. This really is one of the best films I’ve seen in recent years and cannot recommend it enough. Stylish, beautifully filmed, jarringly tense and full of great dialogue. Do yourself a favour and watch it.



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