One of the many ways Blue Ruin distinguishes itself from other revenge movies is that it dispatches with the actually revenge fairly quickly. The rest of the film is where Blue Ruin's black humor and intensity reveal themselves.
Macon Blair, one of many unfamiliar faces in the film, plays Dwight, a drifter who takes the law into his own hands after his parents' murderer gets released from prison. But it's not quite so simple. What makes the twists and turns so unexpected is just how little Dwight thinks out his plan. He has determination but not a lot of foresight.
Dwight's act of vengeance brings serious repercussions on both him and his sister. So now a man who could barely take care of himself has to survive and defend the only family he has left. Though he occasionally displays some ingenuity, Dwight is in way over his head.
Writer, director and cinematographer Jeremy Saulnier uses gore effectively throughout the film. Though it's often quite bloody, it's never used for cheap effect. Like the Coen Brothers' debut Blood Simple 30 years ago, it shows just how hard"”both physically and emotionally"”it is to kill someone, even if that person might deserve it.
Even at 90 minutes, the film is perfectly paced, giving just enough time for backstory and the introduction of integral characters. The most interesting of which is Ben, played by Devin Ratray (a.k.a. Buzz from Home Alone). As an Army vet with a few mental wounds of his own, he offers Dwight help and a few words of caution.
A third-act twist covers similar territory as last year's The Place Beyond the Pines, but this film does it far more succinctly and effectively. It also boasts gorgeous cinematography but never seems pleased with itself. This is a visceral film about the nasty business of revenge and the vicious cycle it starts. Like the saying goes, "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind." Blue Ruin illustrates that in gruesome detail.