Dwight lives in a rusted car on the Delaware coast. One morning, the local sheriff arrives to deliver news: Dwight’s parents’ murderer will go free on an early parole. The local sheriff wanted Dwight to hear it from him. He watches Dwight with a weary eye, but Dwight takes the news with calm. After the sheriff leaves, Dwight begins his trek back to his small Virginia hometown to exact revenge.
Dwight isn’t confident and driven. He’s desperate and scared. He takes his revenge in a clumsy and brutal bit of violence that leaves him bloody and shaken. His escape proves just as sloppy, leaving him exposed to an inevitable retaliation.
A simple story driven by our investment in the characters. We meet Dwight as he’s easing into a warm bath inside a cozy single family home. Just as he gets comfortable, the owners arrive and Dwight flees. It’s a terrific introduction that draws us into his story. As Dwight’s retribution spirals out of control, we grow concerned for him, investing us in the finale.
Macon Blair shines in the role. He never tells us how Dwight is feeling, but his eyes speak volumes. As Dwight watches his parents’ killer leave prison, Blair’s expression mirrors the bile and nausea churning in Dwight’s stomach. Later, after Dwight has taken his revenge, Blair’s darting gaze and vacant eyes communicate Dwight’s shock.
A bit of on-the-nose dialogue and a suspect backstory aside, Blue Ruin never stumbles. Like the best thrillers, it places its characters first.