Macon Blair

ff blue ruin

Editor’s note: Our review of Blue Ruin originally ran during last year’s Fantastic Fest, but we’re re-posting it now as the film opens in limited theatrical release and on VOD. You should probably see it. The beauty of film festivals is that the vast majority of the movies exist outside the vacuum of movie blogs, magazines, and water cooler conversations. They’re unknown quantities, and while many are destined to stay that way, each year a handful of titles explode from the periphery to mesmerize, entertain, and impress unsuspecting viewers. Welcome to Blue Ruin. Dwight (Macon Blair) is a bit of a loner. He lives in his car, parked on the side of a road near a Delaware beach, and spends his days scrounging for food, collecting cans and reading. A gentle wake-up knock on his car window precedes a disturbing piece of news. The man who killed Dwight’s parents is being released from prison. Single-minded but far from focused, Dwight fills the gas tank, pops the car battery into place and makes a beeline straight into hell.

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There are few things to watch that are as satisfying as a good old fashioned revenge story, and if the new trailerfor Jeremy Saulnier‘s Blue Ruin is any indication, we’ve got another excellent case of death-bringing on our hands. The trailer begins with a man named Dwight (Macon Blair) awakened from his apparent home, a car resting on the coastline near the beach. He’s looking worse for the wear, as those living in their cars are wont to do. A kind police officer spells it out in soothing voiceover that he’s had his reasons for living his life in hiding. With that gentle rap on the car window, though, the officer is unleashing a whole new can of worms for Dwight to devour: the man who killed Dwight’s parents when he was a child has been released from prison. While the officer seems to think that this news will shock and terrify Dwight, it appears the opposite is going to happen. This is a revenge flick, and Dwight is going to hit the road to track that son of a bitch down. “What he did to them was awful,” the officer coos about halfway through the trailer as images of Dwight’s childhood play, juxtaposed with blood-soaked rooms and gun barrels. Well, what Dwight’s about to do to him is probably going to be even worse. If the quiet, maybe too eerily mellow trailer is any indication of the film’s tone, then we’re in for something disturbing.

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The bad thing about The Exorcist is that it has been so influential that we’re coming up on 40 years since its release and still we’re getting a handful of cheap knockoffs released in theaters every year. From The Devil Inside, to The Rite, to The Last Exorcism, to The Exorcism of Emily Rose, demonic possession movie after demonic possession movie is made with the same plot, the same characters, and the same tone. And every time you watch the whole thing play out, it manages to hit with slightly less impact than it did the time before. It was with great enthusiasm, then, that I watched J.T. Petty’s (The Burrowers) latest film, Hellbenders, which is finally, finally an exorcism movie that’s nothing like all of the other exorcism movies that have come before. There are no creepy little girls and wise but weary priests here. Instead, Hellbenders populates itself with foul-mouthed, hard-partying priests who seem to be more comfortable sinning than they do going to Sunday mass. You see, the conceit is this: in order for a priest who deals in exorcism to be ready to take a demon into his body and escort it to hell — by offing himself — he must always have enough sin wracked up to actually be worthy of going to the place. So, the merry band of miscreants that this film follows have checklists to make sure that they’re on top of their sinning. They curse, they steal, they blaspheme, they engage in […]

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