M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Four of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2013 and going through September 30, 2014. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t!

How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st, 2013 and September 30, 2014 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number—31. Again, I never call myself any kind of expert in horror. I simply watch a lot of horror films and love writing about them. Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released on April 25, 2014. Available on digital download, On Demand, and DVD/Blu-ray!

BLUE RUIN (2013)

Directed by Jeremy Saulnier
Written by Jeremy Saulnier
Starring Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves, Kevin Kolack, Eve Plumb, David W. Thompson, Brent Werzner, Stacy Rock, Sidné Anderson
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here

While this one is not high on the list for feel good comedy of the year, it is one of the most powerfully gripping tales of revenge you’re going to ever come by. Dwight (Macon Blair) is an empty man living destitute out of his car finds himself refilled with a healthy dose of vengeance when the murderer of his own parents is released from prison. Starting up the car and arming himself to the teeth, Dwight sets off to track down the murderer which turns into a game of tag with bullets between Dwight and his murderer’s family until there are very few left alive to play the game.

The film plays like a teapot on a stove, slowly increasing in pressure throughout. Unlike other films which like to razzle and dazzle every ten minutes or so with an action piece, the tension in this film grows and grows from the opening scenes of Dwight living a quiet life in a field next to a beach and begins its slow trek to a conclusion which is somewhat telegraphed, but still surprising the whole way through. Along the way, you begin to find out more about Dwight, whose patience is inspiring as if he were a vengeful caterpillar hiding out in that cocoon of a car, counting the days until he can emerge as a wrathful butterfly to rip apart those who wronged him.

As we follow Blair as Dwight, through nothing but silent scenes of moving here to there, it’s a testament to Blair’s skill as an actor to communicate through mounds of facial hair emotions that are undeniable. I have never really noticed Blair; who has a sort of harmless, Bud Cort kind of style and demeanor, in his previous smaller roles in MURDER PARTY and HELLBENDERS, but this is a star making role for the actor and the power of this film rests on his thin and sloping shoulders. He is terrifying once he is armed as we know by the time he ammos up that he will stop at nothing until vengeance is served. All of that effect, though, comes from the first fifty minutes of the film where your heart goes out and eventually breaks knowing this is a man on a path he can never come back from.

But what I love most about BLUE RUIN is that it is a simple film. One man killing another man for killing another has been a part of the human condition since the dawn of man. Because this is such a universal and simple concept, it makes this story so much more relatable and forces you to ask yourself what you would do given this situation. Exploring those possibilities to its fullest extreme is what this film does time and again. The final deafening silence highlights the apex of Dwight’s reason for staying alive for this long as he descended into mental illness and solitude years before when his parents were killed. Appreciating this film for the explosive ending is one thing, but I love this film for the tender and intimate silences that help us walk in the shoes of someone who has nothing but payback to live for. BLUE RUIN does this with such finesse that all involved have me interested in what they have up their sleeves next. And while there are very few laughs or moments to relieve the tension built by BLUE RUIN, which is the cinematic equivalent of a slowly tightening guitar string that will eventually snap and smack you in the face.

THE 2013-2014 COUNTDOWN!

#13 – TUSK
#15 – FOUND
#16 – PLUS ONE

M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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