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Blue Ruin (Blu-ray Review)

Blue-RuinAs it goes to start off, I was sort of in the dark regarding Blue Ruin back in 2013.  It wasn’t until I started seeing actor AJ Bowen Tweeting such high praises for the film and its lead performer Macon Blair, that I became aware and intrigued.  Upon looking the film up, I noticed it was the long awaited next film from the guy who did Murder Party.  Murder Party was a little cult classic dark comedy that completely surprised me many moons ago.  Blue Ruin was looking on the up and up for me.  Finally it got a release on VOD where I was able to see it and let me tell you, it did not disappoint.  As you can see from our ‘Top 3 of 2014 So Far’ lists we had compiled last week, I kinda liked it.  Enough of that, lets get into the how and why I loved this movie so much.

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Film 

Dwight is a beach vagrant living out of his car and using unknowing folks’ utilities in their homes when they are away.  A police officer picks him up one day to give him some eye opening news.  The man responsible for murdering his parents is going to be released from prison.  Dwight does his best to prepare, attempting to come up with a plan of action which includes a failed attempt and stealing a gun with a lock in the trigger.  Knife in his hand, Dwight stalks the prison and waits for the man to be released and stalks for the perfect opportunity to take his revenge.  But, that’s only the beginning…

Blue Ruin begins where most revenge films meet their end.  That’s kinda the hook on it, but its absolutely terrific.  The film lingers on that big moment and really brings to the forefront the “Well, now what?” angle.  There’s repercussions and even more danger that comes with Dwight’s actions.  There’s also a little bit of the unknown that goes along with it that all may not be what it seems.

Jeremy Saulnier gives us a revenge film that feels incredibly grounded and real, but uses that aspect to its advantage with original and unique shock and suspense sequences throughout his masterpiece.  A big part of what fuels this is his choice in lead actor in Macon Blair.  Blair doesn’t at all look like your traditional revenge action guy either in his bearded vagrant appearance or his cleaned up one.  Dwight looks and behaves like your regular inexperienced guy who goes out for revenge.  Blair is so damn good here as a lot of his work doesn’t involve speaking and very much asks him to carry a lot of the film.

In terms of craft, this film only cost a little more than 250,000 to make and it looks as good and plays better than most multimillion dollar budget flicks of its ilk.  It really helps that Saulnier is a director of photography when he’s not directing films, so Blue Ruin looks quite lovely and is perfectly lit for every sequence.  He even went out and made a short 5 minute demo to just sell the look and tone of what the film was to be for the investors and it itself looks pretty gorgeous.

One aspect that I don’t hear a lot of people discussing when it comes to Blue Ruin is how great the effects are in this film.  This is a cheap film and seamlessly marries practical and CG better than I’ve seen big blockbuster titles and high profile horror titles do.  And in the very vein of Neil Marshall, the violence in Blue Ruin hurts.  Its surprising, it hurts and its graphic while being both exploitative and servicing the story at the same time.  The gore in Blue Ruin is a nice tool to add to the suspense and tension of the film.

This will likely not be the last time you hear me boast about Blue Ruin this year.  I’ll be shocked if it doesn’t survive to make my end of the year top 10.  I was truly surprised, not that it was good, but at how perfect the film was and how much I fell in love with it.  I’ve seen it twice now, but will likely watch it a few more times before the year’s end.  Its also the one I hope people spread the word like crazy about.  And if you know me, I’m definitely going to be trying to force you to watch it!

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2:40.1

Clarity/Detail: Another great looking modern film from Anchor Bay.  Detail is pretty high as you can pick out beard hairs as well as stain and dirt marks on Dwight’s white shirt.  Also, if you’re not squeemish, there is plenty of detail on wounds visible.  Firearms also see a good amount of detail from as much as fingerprints to wood grain.  The only knock on the image is there are times where it looks a little too smooth.  Other than that its a crisp, sharp image that is beautifully littered in detail.

Depth: An above average dimensional approach.  There are some good moments within cars whether some is driving or sleeping in it between the interior and what lies on the outside of the car.  There are also some great shots during the finale’s setup of scale and depth between character and environment.

Black Levels: Blacks are plenty inky and definitely help define a lot of the images quality.  Its never too dark and no detail is hidden.

Color Reproduction: The colors spring for a lot of normal here.  But the green grass and leaves pop and blood definitely makes its presence known.  The colors all sort of gel together to make one nice aura in the picture.

Flesh Tones: Consistent.  While the film looks warm in many spots, skin is on the whiter and cooler side of things.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  This is a really awesome track for the film.  This film is primarily quiet with some ruckus sprinkled within.  The sounds are very realistic and defined.  Volume levels are balanced well between effects, score and dialogue.

Low Frequency Extension: Car engines and shotgun shots get an extra boost from your sub.  Crashes and all sorts of sounds are enhanced.  Loud music also drops that bass.

Surround Sound Presentation: There’s some good work done on the beach and the escape from the house sequence.  Mainly just scoring and ambiance, but there is some light usage to enhance some of the action sequences.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is low by nature, but everything is clean, clear and front heavy.

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Extras 

For what this movie is and what it had lying around, all it is shy of including with the bonus is a DVD and Digital Copy.

Feature Commentary – Writer/Director Jeremy Saulnier and actor Macon Blair, who are best friends in real life look back over a passion project of theirs that has hopefully changed their lives forever.

No Regrets: The Making Of Blue Ruin (HD, 18:56) – An incredible look back at the history of getting the film off the ground.  From the end of Murder Party to getting the money, casting, shooting and Cannes it covers everything with this little film.  The interviews are terrific, charismatic and fun.  If you don’t like or root for these people following this little piece I’d be very surprised.  What an incredibly lovable group of people that worked on this film.

Deleted Scenes (W/ Option Commentary)

  • Extended Opening (HD, 2:33) 
  • Limo Crash (HD, 2:25)

Camera Test (HD, 3:52) – The demo (also starring Macon Blair) that Jeremy Saulnier shot to convey the look, feel and tone of the film to investors.

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Summary 

Blind buy this.  Anchor Bay releases one of the best films of the year with a great presentation and the perfect set of extras to compliment and complete the experience of Blue Ruin.  I personally am a huge fan of the film and cannot wait to see what comes from both Jeremy Saulnier and Macon Blair next.  Blue Ruin is that of a film I will enjoying watching, studying, sharing and enjoying for years to come.  Having seen so much in my lifetime, its rare when something like this grabs you from the opening frame and has you completely hooked and invested with every frame that follows until the final credit.  Its a completely fresh take on something that, yes, has been done a lot, but Blue Ruin makes the revenge film feel brand new.  Seek it out as soon as you can.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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