If most revenge movies were apples, then “Blue Ruin” would be oranges.
The protagonist isn’t some hardened, burly man (think Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson)—instead, ”Blue Ruin” has nobody Dwight Evans (Macon Blair), an extremely motivated beach bum on a mission to destroy the man that murdered his parents.
But don’t laugh. Dwight means business, seriously.
So what sets Dwight on this path of vengeance, death, destruction and sadness?
Well, after reading the paper, he discovers that his parents’ killer, Wade Cleland, has been released from prison.
At first, Dwight is stricken with extreme shock, but soon enough, he mobilizes.
To go from homeless man to killing machine is no easy feat, but Dwight does all right.
First he cashes in his recyclable cans to buy a road map. Then he loads the little gas he has saved up into his beat-up, barely running Toyota (“home”).
That’s what intrigued me the most in “Blue Ruin.”
The film was concerned with storytelling and good acting, not with high-budget eye candy—big guns, attractive women, gratuitous explosions.
In his first violent encounter, the tension is palpable even without these action movie tropes, as Dwight hides in a bathroom stall, waiting for his prey.
Blair’s acting makes the scene.
The visceral terror on his face looks genuine, with his eyes bulging as he holds one hand over his mouth and grips a rusty knife with the other.
Even more amazing is that despite the lack of music, I was still in complete suspense.
But not only was “Blue Ruin” well acted, its story was also well told.
Director Jeremy Saulnier’s approach was very similar to that of Jonathan Demme’s in “Rachel Getting Married.”
It’s slow in a way, because the plot is revealed only a bit at a time.
It takes the audience half of the movie to find out most, not even all, of the details regarding the murder.
And, you have to wait until the bloody end of the movie for everything to make sense.
This strategy is not only uncommon, but it’s also extremely effective at keeping the viewers’ interest.
You’re not stuck at the end saying, “Hey, I knew that would happen!”
And, obviously, the unique plot helps with all of this.
Who’s ever thought of a beach bum revenge movie, anyway?
So take a break from those monotonous, loud popcorn flicks, and watch something out of the ordinary.