1) The protagonist, Dwight, is a nothing of a human being. He exists entirely below the surface of every day life. He lives is his car on a beach in Maryland, scavenges bottles and cans for money, eats out of the dumpsters of the local beach boardwalk carnival. He isn’t happy or sad. He isn’t damaged, he just wants to be invisible.
2) Mrs. Rawson has had a rather unsubstantiated fear of vagabonds occupying our house while we’re at work, or on vacation (She saw a report on 20/20 or Dateline about a couple of gutter punk kids doing this.). At the beginning of the film, Dwight is almost caught doing just that. He’s taking a bath in a weekend home and the family walks in as he’s easing back for a long soak. He kicks out the bathroom window just as they’re coming through the front door. After seeing this, Mrs. Rawson turned to me and said, “See, that’s why I lock the garage door when we go out.” It gave me a chuckle.
3) Dwight’s told by a local policewoman, who obviously knows Dwight and his situation, that the man who killed his parents is going to be released from prison. I found the scene when she’s telling him touching. The scene made me wonder if there are cops like this out there in the real world? Cops who know the local homeless population and more or less try to keep and eye on them?
4) Yeah, I know, it’s just a fucking movie.
5) Dwight’s ready to roll once he finds out the news. Big problem, how does he kill the guy once he finally makes it back to Virginia? He doesn’t have enough money to buy a gun, and the one he steals has a trigger lock. So, any port in a storm, might as well use his fishing knife.
6) Genius plot point in the film I completely fucked up for you with point #3 is that you don’t know until midway through the film that it was Dwight’s parents who were killed. You’re more or less left to your own devices to figure that out. Was it Dwight’s wife and her best friend? His kids? Who? Obviously the murders have wiped Dwight’s head completely clean of any desire to exist. But ask yourself this: Would you really want to hatch a bloodthirsty plan of revenge over your folks?
7) “I could forgive you if you were crazy. But you’re not, you’re just weird.”
8) Yup, Dwight’s just weird. But then again, it seems that his parents deaths occurred when he was a teenager, so maybe their deaths hold a greater significance to him because of his age?
9) The murderer’s family picks up the con from prison in a mid-90’s, two tone Cadillac limousine. Something about the car just screams white trash and you all probably deserve what you’ve got coming.
10) I’m convinced every director should be a cinematographer first before they’re allowed to make their first feature film. Seriously, the muted colors and use of natural lighting provide a stunning effect and is a fine departure from how most commercial films look these days.
11) Has anyone else noticed that most films look like 80’s TV movies, but with insane amounts of money spent on costumes and props?
12) The murderer’s, Wade Cleland, death scene was a thing of beauty. It was clumsy, sloppy, full of rage and misgivings. It’s how a murder scene should be filmed.
13) Dwight loses his car keys during the struggle with the murderer and ends up stealing the limo to get away. He has no idea that there’s someone still inside the car. When Dwight hears banging on the privacy window, he pulls over the car (which he has to do anyway because he slashed one of the tires of the limo on his way out to the car.) and lets the person out. It’s a teenage boy, the youngest member of the Wade’s family, and he’s my favorite character outside of Dwight.
14) The Cleland family doesn’t call the cops on Dwight, they let him walk away. They decide to handle the problem of Dwight “in house”. Yeah, these people are scary ass rednecks.
15) Blah blah blah Kickstarter, blah blah blah.
16) Dwight takes a crossbow bolt to the leg when the family makes their first run at him. He spends the next 15 minutes of the film trying to get it out on his own. These scenes are absolutely gut wrenching to watch, and I thought they were a little gratuitous and unnecessarily gory while I was watching them. But now that I’ve had some time and distance, I realize they weren’t at all. Movies tend to paint over character injuries, filmmakers shrug them off. Getting shot with an arrow—hell, getting shot with a pellet gun—hurts, so why not show the effects of the injury?
17) We really do make too big of a deal out of when a Kickstarter campaign actually makes something worthwhile. The reason being is because 50% of Kickstarter campaigns are being run by talentless lowlifes. But the other 50%, well, they’re run by people who’re usually offering up some genius level shit, unfortunately we tend to focus on the shysters.
18) Dwight turns to his high school best friend, Ben Gaffney, for help when he realizes he’s going to need more than a fishing knife to go after the rest of the Cleland family. Ben’s a gun nut. When you’re going on a blood thirsty rampage, it’s good to have a buddy who’s really into guns.
19) Ben warns Dwight not to make any speeches when he’s getting ready to take down the Cleland’s: “Just point and shoot.” Dwight, of course, doesn’t heed his advise.
20) The final confrontation between Dwight and the Cleland’s is intense. The snarling presence of Hope Cleland—played by indie actress, Stacy Rock—sums up the Cleland clan perfectly: They’re rabid dogs who needed to be put down a long time ago.
21) So should you watch Blue Ruin? If you’re the type of movie watcher who thinks the epileptic seizure fests of J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon are the end-all-be-all of filmmaking, you’re probably not going to be into it. But if you dig the Coen brothers or Jeff Nichols, you’ll love it.
22) Reading through this, I guess I probably should’ve given you a “spoiler” warning at the beginning of this, but fuck it, you should be along for the ride when it comes to books and movies.