It was a good year for revenge thrillers at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. There were two brilliant nail-biters: Jim Mickle’s Cold in July and writer/director Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin. After premiering his film at the Cannes Film Festival as part of the Directors’ Fortnight, Saulnier brought it to the Next category, making an ambitious leap forward from his no-budget origins at the Slamdance Film Festival with his cult-favorite Murder Party. Blue Ruin makes its Blu-ray debut from Starz/Anchor Bay on July 22.
Blue Ruin features Macon Blair in a star-making debut as off-the-grid loner Dwight, who has just learned that the man who killed his parents has been let out of prison on parole. In a fit of vigilantism, Dwight kills the man in a bathroom stall and heads to see his sister Sam (Amy Hargreaves). Little does Dwight know that his vengeful act doesn’t sit well with the killed man’s family and now Dwight, and Sam’s whole family, are targets of the Cleland clan.
Blue Ruin may be crammed onto a measly 25GB disc, but the good news is that that never takes its toll on the video. Aside from two instances of slight aliasing, there are no other anomalies to speak of. Banding, noise, and crush, all absent. Detail is spot on, even in wide shots so you can see far off into the distance. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is fantastic as well — especially for a film with such a small budget. A scene following Dwight through a bar moves the audio from speaker to speaker always keeping the sound right where Dwight would be hearing it. Bass levels are also excellent, something that helps keep the suspense humming along. English and Spanish subtitles are available.
The special features are no slouch either. First up is an audio commentary featuring Saulnier and Blair who wax nostalgic about the filmmaking process, while pointing out extras and shooting locations. It’s a fun listen — including a hilarious Jurassic Park reference — but you’ll only want to listen to it after having seen the film.
In that regard, make sure you wait to watch “No Regrets: The Making of Blue Ruin” (18:56) as there are a few spoilers since the cast and crew talk about the film from its conception through its Kickstarter campaign, to its Cannes premiere and a teary-eyed tribute to Saulnier’s father who passed away before the film was completed. The two “Deleted Scenes” (4:59) are an “Extended Opening” and “Limo Crash” with optional commentary with Saulnier and Blair. And finally, the original “Camera Test” (3:52) Saulnier used to set the tone of the film, and for the Kickstarter campaign, is included.
Full of nail-biting suspense and a finale that’ll leave you breathless, Blue Ruin is one of the year’s flat-out best thrillers. Full of plot twists and welcome doses of humor, the whole team is at the top of its game for what could have been a minor blip of a film. Devin Ratray nearly steals the show as Dwight’s long-lost friend, but Blair more than carries the load and provides a true tour de force. This is one film that demands to be sought out, and worth a blind buy if you’re looking for something meatier than the usual genre offerings.