Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jeremy Saulnier|
|Written by||Jeremy Saulnier|
|Edited by||Julia Bloch|
Blue Ruin is a 2013 American thriller film written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier, and starring Macon Blair. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival as part of the Directors' Fortnight section on May 17, 2013, where it won the FIPRESCI Prize. Saulnier funded production on the film through a successful Kickstarter campaign, which MTV.com called "the perfect example of what crowdfunding can accomplish." The film was nominated for the John Cassavetes Award at the 2015 Independent Spirit Awards.
Dwight Evans, living as a beach vagrant, lives out of his car and scavenges for food and money. A policewoman tells him that Wade Cleland, the man who murdered Dwight's parents twenty years ago, is to be released from prison, having received a lower sentence due to a plea bargain. Dwight returns to his hometown in Virginia and watches the Clelands collect Wade from prison. Despite failing to steal a gun, Dwight follows Wade to a club restroom and, after a fight, fatally stabs him. Realizing he dropped his car keys in the club, Dwight steals the Clelands' limousine; as he drives away, he discovers a teenage boy, William Cleland, in the back and lets him go.
After cleaning himself up, Dwight visits his sister, Sam, for the first time in years and tells her that he has killed Wade. Sam is shocked but glad. As the killing has gone unreported on the news, Dwight surmises that the Clelands have decided to seek revenge without police involvement. Sam flees her home with her daughters and Dwight waits in the house for the Clelands' attack. Wade's two brothers arrive in the car Dwight left outside the club. Dwight escapes the attackers and runs over one of the Clelands, Teddy, in his car; he places the unconscious Teddy in the trunk. Before Dwight drives away, Teddy's brother Carl shoots him in the thigh with a crossbow.
After attempting surgery on himself, Dwight has the wound treated at a hospital and returns to Sam's house to clean up the mess. He tracks down an old high school friend, Ben, who lends him a rifle. On Ben's land, Dwight interrogates Teddy at gunpoint. Teddy tells him that Wade was not his parents' killer; it was Wade's now-deceased father, in revenge for Dwight's father having an affair with Wade Sr.'s wife. His mother's death was unfortunate; she just happened to be in the car when Wade Sr. ambushed it. Wade Jr. took the blame as his father was dying from cancer and the family did not want him to die in prison. Teddy wrestles Dwight's rifle from him, but Ben shoots him dead from a concealed position. To keep Ben from further involvement, Dwight removes the battery from Ben's car.
Dwight goes to the Cleland house and finds it empty. He searches it for guns, dumps them in a lake, and waits to ambush the Clelands. He leaves a message on the house answering machine asking them to leave Sam out of the dispute. Carl, his older sister, Kris, and their cousin, Hope, return and listen to Dwight's message; when it becomes clear that the Clelands intend to kill Sam, Dwight shoots and kills Carl. He then holds the women at gunpoint while explaining his dilemma about whether to kill the family members. William enters through another door and shoots Dwight with both barrels of a shotgun. Dwight, severely wounded, asks William to leave with his car and tells him what Teddy told him: they are half-brothers. After William leaves, Hope attempts to attack Dwight; Kris reaches for a TEC-9 hidden under a recliner and fires at Dwight, but she misses and instead kills Hope. Dwight's next shot mortally wounds Kris, but she kills him before she dies. A postcard Dwight sent days earlier arrives at Sam's house.
- Macon Blair as Dwight Evans
- Devin Ratray as Ben Gaffney
- Amy Hargreaves as Sam Evans
- Kevin Kolack as Teddy Cleland
- Eve Plumb as Kris Cleland
- David W. Thompson as William
- Brent Werzner as Carl Cleland
- Stacy Rock as Hope Cleland
- Sidné Anderson as Officer Eddy
Blair and Saulnier had been making movies together growing up and hoped to make a living out of it; however, as they both became older with families, they realized that that might not happen. After the disappointing reception of their horror comedy Murder Party, the two wanted to make one last film together. Saulnier said, "We embraced the fact that we had to wrap up this childhood arc—this insane fantasy of wanting to be filmmakers—and just make a film that was right and true." The concept of a revenge story appealed to Saulnier, who said that it "was just about grounding the film in a very mundane scenario that needed so little exposition." The film's plot also serves as a critique for Saulnier of films that he enjoyed growing up. In particular, several violent crimes in the early years of the 2010s "made [him] miserable", and he said he "couldn't do a film that was akin to those awesome genre spectacles of my youth" in said climate.
The film was financed with help from a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012 asking for $35,000 and money from Saulnier's own savings. Saulnier initially did not want to use the crowd funding platform, as he felt conflicted about asking for help, specifically that donors could not invest in the back end through the site. However, he eventually realized that the positive outweighed the negative. Saulnier said that when making the pitch video for the campaign "I faced my worst nightmare" as he was camera shy.
Blue Ruin opened in 7 theaters in North America and earned $32,608 in its opening weekend averaging $4,658 per theater and ranking #52 at the box office. The film ultimately earned $258,384 domestically and $719,241 internationally for a total of $977,625. The film then was given a VOD release on April 25, 2014. followed by a home video release on July 22, 2014.
Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 96% of 135 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 8 out of 10. The critical consensus states "Smart, stripped-down, and thrillingly grim, Blue Ruin proves that a well-told revenge story can still leave its audience on the edge of their seat." The film also has a score of 77 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 33 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Top ten lists
Blue Ruin was listed on many critics' top ten lists.
- 1st – Chase Whale, Twitch Film
- 1st – Josh Bell, Las Vegas Weekly
- 2nd – William Goss, Austin Chronicle
- 5th – Marc Doyle, Metacritic
- 7th – James Rocchi, The Wrap
- 8th – Russ Fischer, Slash Film
- 8th – A.A. Dowd, The A.V. Club
- 8th – Haleigh Foutch, Collider
- 10th – Nathan Rabin, The Dissolve
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- Sullivan, Kevin P. "'Veronica Mars' Is Great, But 'Blue Ruin' Is Why Kickstarter Matters". MTV. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
- "Blue Ruin". Kickstarter. July 30, 2012. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
- "Nominations JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD". Archived from the original on December 31, 2015. Retrieved January 15, 2016.
- Grierson, Tim. "Revenge, Success and 'Blue Ruin'". Rollling Stone. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
- Schmidlin, Charlie. "Interview: 'Blue Ruin' Director Jeremy Saulnier Talks Grounding The Revenge Film, Facial Hair & Embracing Limitations". Indiewire. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
- Tobias, Scott. "Blue Ruin director Jeremy Saulnier on going to extremes". The Dissolve. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
- "Blue Ruin (2014) - International Box Office Results - Box Office Mojo". Retrieved January 15, 2016.
- Barton, Steve (May 30, 2014). "Blue Ruin Gets Revenge on Home Video". Dread Central. Retrieved August 30, 2014.
- "Blue Ruin (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 4, 2015.
- "Blue Ruin". Metacritic. Retrieved January 4, 2015.
- "Film Critic Top 10 Lists - Best Movies of 2014". Metacritic. Retrieved January 15, 2016.