The revenge thriller genre is a film genre that constantly finds itself taking itself too seriously. There have certainly been a lot of great revenge films as of late, but almost all of them (and the bad ones too) have the same dark and serious atmosphere. Blue Ruin is a film that fortunately at least tries to experiment with the genre. Unfortunately, that’s all that Blue Ruin is. It’s an experimentation that never at any point figures out what it wants to be. It’s an interesting but at times aggravating mess.
Blue Ruin follows Dwight (Macon Blair), a homeless man, who is told that the killer of his parents is being released from jail. Dwight sets out to kill his parents’ murderer, which sets in motion a brutal feud between two families. Dwight is not your typical revenge film character. Instead of being the stone cold killer archetype that these films tend to follow, Dwight comes across as a man down on his luck and in over his head. That certainly adds to the refreshing nature of the film, but the film doesn’t completely fit this spin on the genre in organically. It feels quite out of place as we watch Dwight fumble around in such a dark and serious film.
Another spin that Blue Ruin adds to the genre is that the villain of the film is a constantly changing and mysterious threat. We are vaguely told why Dwight wants revenge and the details of the man he is after are even more vague. While this sounds interesting in theory it comes across as muddled in the final product.
This all leads to a third act that is very typical of the revenge genre, and it’s not an interesting rendition of it at that. As we saw how revenge just doesn’t end with one person and how one generation always ends up affecting the next you, as the viewer, just feel in a state of been there done that despite the interesting concepts that the film has focused on up to that point.
Blue Ruin certainly does some things right. Macon Blair is a good and atypical leading man, and the imagery within the film is quite breathtaking for such a low budget film. However, a lot of this film feels like a missed opportunity. It’s a film that tries to do way too much and ends up doing too little.