Blue Ruin

[4.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

A surprisingly good low-budget thriller. The "Making Of" feature attached to the DVD reveals the writer/director (Jeremy Saulnier) and the lead actor (Macon Blair) were childhood buddies, making cheesy videos back in the day. They made this flick on a shoestring, even collecting $37,828 via Kickstarter. And yet, I enjoyed it much more than the last Thor movie.

Blair plays Dwight Evans, who is not a revered ex-Red Sox player, but a reclused bum living in a rusty, bullet-riddled 1991 Pontiac Bonneville just outside a Delaware beach resort. It's easy to make the snap judgment: Probably mentally ill, possibly dangerous.

But those preconceptions are upset when a local cop knocks on Dwight's window one morning. She has news: Wade Cleland, obviously someone Dwight knows, has been released from prison. And Dwight suddenly moves purposefully, with a surprising amount of resolve. (Also surprising: the Bonneville runs. Might be the only Bonneville in America that does.) It turns out that Dwight's out to revenge a wrong done to his family years back, one not made right by the alleged perpetrator spending a few years in prison.

It's darkly humorous in spots, and takes a number of unpredictable twists. The storytelling is masterfully economical (which I guess is a plus if you're low on cash). And I did not realize until consulting IMDB that one of the minor-role actresses playing a member of the villainous Cleland family was previously Jan Brady of The Brady Bunch! Now that's casting against type. (She does not utter "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia" either.)