"Blue Ruin" is an indie thriller that plays the "Blood Simple" card pretty hard: Like the Coen brothers' debut, it tries to make up for what it lacks in budget by providing cool and brutal suspense, with a dose of black humor. It mostly succeeds in that, but lacks the sharp characterizations and dialogue of the Coens' film.

Macon Blair plays Dwight, a drifter whose scraggly beard and dirty T-shirt scream homeless more than hipster. He sleeps in a wreck of a Pontiac, dumpster-diving for food and breaking into unoccupied homes for showers. He's clearly a troubled soul, and when he's picked up by police — who give him a warning that the man who killed his parents is now out of jail — it's no surprise to see Dwight stalking the man and gathering weapons with the intent to kill him. Dwight's misguided act of vengeance triggers off a chain of events that brings violence back to his own family and friends.

Director Jeremy Saulnier films in a brooding, dialogue-light and landscape-heavy style that seems more art house than exploitation, but the violence and simple themes of vengeance are fairly transparent. There's little beneath the surface here, especially in Blair's vacant portrayal of the protagonist.

Blue Ruin (Blue Revenge)
DirectorJeremy Saulnier
OpensFeb. 14