A mysterious outsider’s quiet life is turned upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance. Proving himself an amateur assassin, he winds up in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family.
Coming into UK cinemas on the strength of strong festival performances and widespread critical acclaim, this independent film from the US is an excellent revenge thriller that kept me gripped to the screen throughout. It follows a homeless man called Dwight (Macon Blair), who discovers the man who murdered his parents is being released from prison. Travelling without any purpose to his life, this development injects some meaning into his life and he sets out to get his revenge. One of the main strengths of the film is the script, which doesn’t unfold as neatly as you would suspect, keeping the audience guessing and maintaining suspense throughout.
The film is very similar to some of the Coen Brothers early works, particularly their debut ‘Blood Simple’ which I reviewed for their retrospective a couple of weeks ago. Like that film, this is interested in how people’s actions can lead to unintended consequences that cause greater trouble down the line – nothing is simple when murder is involved. The film’s grim approach and use of brutal violence and dark comedy is certainly reminiscent of a good number of the Coen’s efforts.
As the lead, Macon Blair is very good. We join up with him looking almost feral, an unshaven vagrant who hunts bins for food and doesn’t say very much. Once he learns of the release of his parent’s murderer, he gets cleaned up and the transformation is staggering once he’s had a shave and put on some smarter clothes. The direction in the film is excellent, making good use of lighting and mood to ramp up the tension, as Dwight tries to execute his plan. This is a gripping, well-told revenge thriller, and one of the best recent entries into the genre.
Directed By: Jeremy Saulnier
Starring: Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves, Kevin Kolack and Eve Plumb